Four year terms mooted by Hide

May 11, 2009

The NBR reports Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has suggested a four year term for both local and central governments.

Answering a question at a business seminar on the super city for Auckland, he said the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended a four-year term for councils.

But this would not be practical unless the central government term was also extended to avoid clashes of election times. Such a change would not occur without a referendum, Mr Hide said.

Elections are a check on the power of councils and governments so a three year term provides a more frequent check than a four year one, but I am open to the idea of extending the term.

A four year term would be a little less expensive for tax and rate payers who pay the costs of elections and also pay for election bribes.

It would allow more time for consultation and consideration of policy by both parliament and the public.

It would also give governments and councils more time to implement their policies – although I’d feel a lot more positive about this if National was in power than if they weren’t 🙂


Who benefits from subsidies take 2

May 11, 2009

In Saturday’s post on who benefits from subsidies  I wrote that Anti-Dismal’s post who gets what from agricultural subsidies said it was landowners.

Paul Walker pointed out in a comment I’d got that wrong and the study he referred to said 75% of the subsidy went to the farmers and 25% to land owners.

In New Zealand most farmers own their own land and I think even more would have before the mid 1980s when farming was subsidised so the difference is academic. However, no mention is made of those who work for, service and supply farmers and process what they grow and as I said in Saturday’s post the removal of subsidies hit them hardest which suggests they got the greatest benefit from them. 

There are two forms of agricultural subsidies – those on production and farm welfare which isn’t related to production.

When New Zealand farmers were subsidised it was for production which not surprisingly led them to produce more than markets wanted which depressed prices so farmers needed higher subsidies  . . .

Increased production not only resulted in produce domestic and overseas markets didn’t want, it also inflated land values and distorted the employment market, increasing demand and inflating wages  because it required more staff on farms and along the production chain.

When subsidies were removed farm incomes, production and land values all fell. The financial and social impact of that through decreased spending and job losses moved from the farms through rural communities to provincial towns and eventually into cities.

It was pretty grim for everyone and I don’t know any farmers who remember that who want a return to subsidies.

Producers in some other countries haven’t learned that yet. Some still get subsidies based on production and others receive welfare payments which are made to keep farmers on the land and unrelated to what and how much they produce.

Welfare isn’t as bad as subsidies on production because at least it doesn’t flood the market, but it still means farmers’ income depends not on their skill, hard work and dependable variables such as the weather and markets; but on the very undependable variable of politcal whim.

But whether it’s a subsidy on production or welfare, it’s very expensive for taxpayers and consumers.

Subsidies might be good for bureaucrats who administer them but any other benefits escape me.


Who’d be a politician?

May 11, 2009

P.J. O’Rourke explains to Bill Ralston why he wouldn’t want to be a politician:

“Meetings.” He stretches out the work in horror. “If it was just a matter of bossing people around, I wouldn’t mind so much. It don’t think any of us would. But to sit through meetings and have to be pleasant to everyone all the time. Can you imagine? I can’t do it around the house, with my wife and chidlren whom I love; how could I do it with the whole goddam public!”

The interview is in this week’s Listener. You can read a preview here, but you’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine if you want to read it all before it goes on-line next week.


Music Month Catch-Up

May 11, 2009

The National Party conference took precedence over my daily links to the other blogs which are doing daily posts to mark NZ Music Month.

To catch up on the weekend’s selection:

Rob took us to Higher Trails  by John Hanlon and introduced The Mockers’ vidoe for Trendy Lefties

Inquiring Mind had So True  from Black Seeds, gave a bonus post with Poi E from the Patea Maori Club and went classical with Rondino by Douglas Lilburn.

Keeping Stock went Violent with Stellar then continued his Christian Music Sundays with In Wonder  from Magnify.

Apropos of NZ Music Month, Big News posts one of his favourite songs and videos and Not PC posts his top 10 favourite albums.


Monday Quiz

May 11, 2009

1. Who wrote A Fence Around the Cuckoo?

2. Which are the five largest electorates, by area, in New Zealand?

3. Who said: ” Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once”?

4. What was the name of the ship which carried the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand to Britian?

5. Who chairs Meat & Wool NZ?


Join the dots

May 11, 2009

Steven Joyce, wearing his Associate Finance Minister’s hat, told the National Party Mainland Conference that in the past five years core government expenditure increased by 50% while the tax take rose by half that amount and the economy grew by only 3%.

Later Finance Minister Bill English told us that the government will do all it can to protect New Zealand from the sharpest edges of the recession and that the ability of businesses to invest and employ is the only way to counter unemployment.

It wasn’t hard to join the dots and work out that the government’s ability to blunt those sharp edges and businesses’ ability to invest and employ would have been so much greater had core government expenditure and the tax take not grown so much and had the economy grown more under Labour’s watch.


Confidence up 27% in BNZ survey – updated

May 11, 2009

I’m not deliberately doing a series of positive posts to cheer up your Monday, it is a coincidence that this makes three in a row.

The latest BNZ confidence survey shows a net 27% of respondents expect the economy to be better in a year’s time.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said, “This is well up from balanced expectations in April and a net 23% pessimistic in March. It is also the equal highest reading on record – though we interpret this more as a sigh of relief lift in confidence rather than an indicator of strong economic activity levels in the near future. ”

He said the survey reasonably predicts the change in confidence which will be reported at the end of the month in the NBNZ Outlook survey which is more details and longer running.

The correlation is shown below:

dairy 10005

UPDATE:

To put this in perspective, while improved confidence is welcome, it doesn’t signal a boom. 

For example accountants reported they were busy with more advisory and budgeting work and clients were slow in paying. 

There was a notable absence of generally negative comments from the agriculture sector which was cautious overall. Vets were upbeat but rural real estate was depressed. 

Architects reported low activity levels with patchy signs of improvement while construction showed mixed up and down signs and there were some positive signs in engineering though the sector wasn’t busy. 

Forestry/Manufacturing/Sawmilling reported some positive signs from offshore but indicated some businesses were likely to fail.

There was a little optimism in horticulture with interest from overseas markets but the sector reported labour shortages.

 Human resources reported low activity levels with some mild signs of improvement. 

Printing and publishing said business was difficult; property development was very bleak; non-residential real estate tenants were reluctant to commit though investor interest was improving and residential real estate reported a significant shortage of listings with multiple offers and properties selling quickly.

Retail was still weak while tourism and travel were getting weaker and worrying about the coming year. 

There were small increases in transport and storage but overall the sector was weak and the vehicle and automotive sector was still weak.


Warm hearts on a cold day

May 11, 2009

A reminder that good things happen every day: 


Happy headlines

May 11, 2009

From today’s ODT:

Soaring prices for lamb welcomed

and

Bonding scheme working, Key tells party

and

South is dodging crisis, says English

and

New businesses open in town

and

Flying school plans to open at airport

and

Tourists flock to colony

Apropos of the last story, on Friday Jim Mora’s panel discussed rural web cams  (at the end of part II) which are very popular in Britian with urban people.

I haven’t unearthed any in New Zealand, but Oamaru’s little blue penguin used to have a penguin cam. It’s not operating at the moment but the website says it’s coming soon.

 


John Grenell – I’ve Been Everywhere

May 11, 2009

Day 11 in the NZ Music Month tune a day challenge.

He was John Hore when I listened to him on Listeners’ Requests on the radio in the 1960s.

If we all spoke as the Scots do, making a clear distinction between h and wh, he might have kept his surname, but we don’t so to avoid unfortunate confusions he adopted the name Grenell (which I think was his mother’s family name).

One of the songs for which he became famous is I’ve Been Everywhere .

The original version used Australian place names.

If you want to try singing the New Zealand version the lyrics are here.

Oh, and he did get his guitar back.

UPDATE:

Inquiring Mind has the Hogsnort Rupert Auntie Alice Medley

Keeping Stock has Splin Enz ENZO with Message to My Girl


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