Too poor to help


One of the criticisms of right wing policies is that they place too much importance on economic growth.

The critics fail to understand that economic growth is a means not an end.

Only by growing the economy can a country afford the education, health and social services it needs.

Without economic growth a country is too poor to help those of its citizens in need, too poor for instance to provide a computer which gives a teenager with cerebal palsy a voice.

She is only able to signal yes and no using flicks of her eyes.

After 14 years without a voice a state of the art communicator, the my tobii arrived in Shenaragh’s world, a Swedish made computer which uses eye tracking technology.

. . . But the $40,000 communicator has only been on loan to Shenaragh – for a few weeks last year, in April this year, and a week now in June.

She is on a long waiting list subject to Ministry of Health funding that has recently been curbed.

$40,000 isn’t a lot of money in a health budget of billions. But when the budget isn’t big enough for the demands placed on it, $40,000 saved in one area can make a big difference in another.

The state isn’t the only avenue open for funding. There may be charitable people or organisations prepared to help, but their ability to do so is also affected by poor economic performance.

Mid-week music – Roberta Flack


One of the trails at Coronet Peak crossed under the chair lift at a high point so the chair wasn’t very far above the skiers.

We’d stopped to give way to a chair when a skier in it leaned out and waggled his fingers close to the face of one of our group. Without missing a beat she broke into song, “Strumming my face with his fingers . . . ” from Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song:

Did you see the one about


Monday funday with words to eat at The Hand Mirror

And now for the news at Inquiring Mind

Internet addiction  at Quote Unquote

Lost My Lunch at goNZo Freakpower

The very busy spider Deborah at In A Strange Land

Dane Moeke – Something very special at Lindsay Mitchell

Presbyterian approach of Billonomics wins approval


In the July issue of North & South Guyon Espiner takes a look at the two top men in the government, those on the way up and those who may be at risk.

On Finance Minsiter Bill English he says:

. . . it’s a good bet the cautious approach will prove the right one and that highly indebted and far-flung New Zealand was poorly palced to spend its way out of poverty. To have unemployment well below rates in the US, Britain and Australia without indulging in their huge spending programmes is evidence at thsi stage Billonomics is working.

English is Catholic but his apporach to the economy has been Presbyterian: getting on to of debt and getting in control of spending without repating the slash-and-burn tactics we was in the early and late 1990s. . .

Without the luxury of surpluses to play with a Presbyterian approach is driven at least as much by necessity as philosophy but it seems to be working.

We may not be out of the woods yet but at least we’ve got a map and directions to help us on the way without saddling our children and grandchilren with debt which will put a rein on economic growth when the world recovery eventually rebounds.

Ocean to Alps by pedal power


The District Council phoned last week to seek our opinion on an Ocean to Alps cycelway.

It would start in or near Oamaru, go through the Waiareka Valley, into the Waitaki Valley, past the hydro lakes and finish near Mount Cook.

Part of it would use a disused rail corridor, and a small portion of that adjoins some of our land.

There are few details avaialble yet but I support the idea in principle for both economic and social reasons.

A recent survey shows the Central Otago Rail Trail boosts the local economy by around $7 million and creates the equivalent of about 75 fulltime jobs a year.

More difficult to quantify but also of value is the positive difference it’s brought to small, formerly isolated communities.

New businesses have been established, locals have found outlets for creative endeavours and the standard of food and wine at wayside stops has moved well beyond the sad pies and deep fried horrors that used to be all that was available.

Why are referenda questions so badly worded?


Referenda are very blunt instruments.

They usually give voters only two options – supporting or opposing the proposition with no ifs, buts or maybes.

That makes it very important to get the question right but those behind the referendum on child discipline have got the question wrong.

Most people understand the intent of the referendum – a change in the law which got rid of the reasonable force defence for people accused of hitting children to ensure that parents who lightly smack a child aren’t criminalised for doing so.

But the intention isn’t clear in the question which asks “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

Who’s smacking whom and who’s being corrected?

Would a violent smack as part of good parental correction be okay but a light one as part of bad parental correction not be?

Those are silly questions but that’s the problem with the referendum question which is open to silly interpretations.

I support the intent of the law but like Macdoctor, I think the underlying problem with it is confusion:

Kids are not being dragged off to CYFS because of a light smack. Masses of police resources are not being wasted following up on smacking “leads”. On the legal front, not a lot has changed.

The problem is . . . There is considerable fear, uncertainty and doubt about the new law and what is really acceptable. . . . The net result of this uncertainty is a reduction in the use of smacking – a result that the advocates of the repeal applaud. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this is that some parents will lack the skill-set to use some other form of discipline, resulting in the use of no discipline at all.

The whole “anit-smacking” debate was badly handled from the beginning and that led to bad law but a badly worded referendum question isn’t going to improve matters.

Just as the proponents of the law missed an opportunity to get the legislation right, the proponents of the referendum have wasted the opportunity to correct the problems with it.

Smacking isn’t child abuse . It isn’t good parenting either however, I am very uneasy about the law which makes it a criminal offence.

I won’t be voting yes but I don’t think I’ll be voting no either because by asking the wrong question the referendum means neither answer is right.

June 17 in history


On June 17:

1631 Mumtaz Mahal dies in childbirth and her husband spends 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal.

1944 Iceland declares its Independence from Denmark and becoems a republic.
Flag of Iceland Coat of arms of Iceland
Flag Coat of arms

1867 Australian poet Henry Lawson  was born.

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