Word of the day

August 9, 2010

Runcation – weeding.

My garden is much in need of lots of  runcation after a wet winter and last week’s warm nor westers.

What will survive

August 9, 2010

My mother would have been 91 today.

When  we were discussing her funeral service I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to say. Her reply wouldn’t have surprised anyone who knew her:  “Just say thank you.”

My brother and I who gave her eulogy, started  by telling that story and finished by saying:

She was loving, caring, kind, hospitable, generous, selfless, determined, calm, slow to anger, wise, intelligent, humble, patient, tactful, cheerful, witty, a good listener.

I could go on but it would be impossible to list all her virtues.  . . she was a truly good and very special woman.

 She wanted us to thank you and I’m sure that you would like us to thank her for all she did for and meant to us and because the world is a kinder, gentler place for her having lived in it.

 Mum shared her birthday with Philip Larkin who would have been 88 today.

The last lines of  his poem An Arundel Tomb,  could have been written for her:  . .  and to prove,/Our almost-instinct almost true:/What will survive of us is love. 

Dump MMP or change it?

August 9, 2010

A media release from the Business Council for Sustainable Development says a poll shows most of us support changing from MMP.

Thirty eight per cent say they will vote to change to a different voting system and 32% to retain the current MMP one while 26% remain undecided, according to a new nationwide ShapeNZ survey of 2,261 New Zealanders.

When the undecided are invited to specify which option they most lean towards at present, the desire for change becomes firmer. The country then votes  46.6% for change from MMP  37.5% to retain the current MMP system.

After applying leanings, the number of undecided falls from 26% to 11.9%.

The BCSD concludes its release by saying:

The Business Council does not have a policy view on MMP reform. It commissions ShapeNZ to provide the public with an opportunity to contribute to policy making.

The Campaign for MMP, as it’s name implies, does have a policy view on MMP and its take on the same poll is that a modified MMP would be broadly supported.

“Campaign for MMP recognises that many people who support MMP want to change it in some way, and we have strongly supported the government’s initiative to commit to an independent review of MMP.”

“The ShapeNZ survey shows people regard the performance of MMP as better to the old First Past the Post. We think most people don’t want to dump MMP, they want to make it better.”

“The critical message that needs to get out in the lead up to next year’s referendum is that a vote for MMP in 2011 is a vote for setting up a process to improve it,” Sandra Grey said.

This is cart before horse territory.

Voting for a system because you want to change it comes with the risk that you won’t like the changes.

Monday’s quiz

August 9, 2010

1. What is Meat & Wool NZ called now it’s lost the wool levy?

2. What’s the name of the reluctant ram in Footrot Flats?

3. Who said: “A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition and art into pedantry. Hence university education.”?

4. Where would you find the mandible, ulna and phalanges

5. It’s sonrisa  in Spanish, sorriso in Italian, sourire in French and memene in Maori, what is it in English?

More than enough

August 9, 2010

We’ve gone from one of our driest years to one of the wettest.

Our average rainfall is about 500 mls ( around 20 inches if you prefer old money).

In autumn we’d measured only 300 mls in the previous 12 months then we got nearly that much in a few days in May.

We’ve had several rains since then culminating with more than 60 mls over the weekend.

When you’re as drought prone as we are we don’t say we’ve had too much rain, but we’re beginning to think we’ve had more than enough for now.

Sickness insurance better than benefit?

August 9, 2010

The Welfare Working Group’s pronouncement that the benefit system is unsustainable is not unexpected.

One of the reasons our economic growth is so slow is that the number of people getting some or all of their income from the public purse is so high.

The people hurt most by this are those on low wages who find themselves little if any better off than some on benefits.

Those who can work should do so and changing incentives sp people are less likely to go on them and move  off them more quickly is one way to reduce the welfare burden.


The report also echoes Ms Rebstock’s call for New Zealand to look at insurance-based welfare systems, like those in Canada, where workers pay insurance premiums.

“Unlike an insurance-based system, the [existing] benefit system has weak incentives for people to reduce the chance of adverse events occurring,” the report says.

This would make sickness more like accidents where workers and businesses pay premiums.

I am cautiously supportive of that.

Having more people in work and paying net tax would reduce the welfare burden which has benefits for the people concerned and society as a whole.

Bonding would help us keep them

August 9, 2010

She’s mid 20s working as a locum registrar at a provincial hospital in New Zealand.

She earns more than she would if she was on the permanent staff but she’s about to go to Australia where she’ll earn nearly twice what she’s getting here.

Last night’s Sunday programme gave several more examples of doctors crossing the Tasman for higher salaries and temperatures.

We can’t do anything about the climate, but more bonding could help keep our medical graduates here, or entice them back once they’ve had their OE.

National’s policy of writing off student loans for doctors and other health professionals who stay in New Zealand and work in hard=to-staff areas has been successful.

It needs to be expanded and if paying for that means paying less for other disciplines so be it.

A better educated population is to be encouraged and I am very supportive of good general degrees which don’t necessarily lead directly to careers.

But when we’re as indebted as New Zealand is we can’t afford everything. If training and bonding more medical students has to come at the expense of funding for some of the disciplines for which there is less need, so be it.

That doesn’t mean that those really keen on studying subjects for which there is less immediate need won’t be able to enrol in a course of their choosing. It just means they’ll have to pay a bigger share of the costs themselves to leave more public funding available for disciplines for which we have a greater need.

When you put medicine against the likes of media studies for scarce tax payer funding there is no contest.

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