Banausic – mundane, routine, common, ordinary, undistinguished; dull and insipid.
You’d be forgiven if you imagined our MPs lived in a different world, writes Rob Stock.
That’s the opening statement of a Sunday Star Times story (not online) headlined A peek at how the other half lives.
It looks at likely policy initiatives this year and then says:
Examples of that kind of whack in the wallet came last year when working parents of young chidlren were told they would have to absorb the rising costs of pre-school childcare after the government cut funding to the sector by $449 million, and many feel that GST hikes left them worse off.
Whack in the wallet is a wonderfully emotive term and Stock makes no mention of the tax cuts and one-off increases to benefits which offset the GST increase.
While it would be foolish to expect the average MP to be on a par financially with the average person, the average man or woman in the street could be forgiven for thinking the parliamentarians making the decisions that hit their wallets live in a different world when it comes to personal finances.
And certainly, the 122 men and women occupying seats in parliament have a different financial profile from the average man or woman.
Stock then takes the 2010 register of parliamentarians pecuniary interests as a guide and says:
Though the register is now dated, it provides a view into the personal wealth themes among MPs, and allows readers to contrast parliamentarians fortunes with their own.
Passing over wealth themes whatever they might be, the inference from all this is that there is something wrong, on the contrary it shows there is something right.
It indicates that many of the people who govern us had successful careers before entering parliament and that they invested wisely. Rather than being something to envy, it’s something which ought to give us reassurance. If they know how to earn, and look after, their own money they are more likely to take a responsible attitude to policies which impact on ours.
It is meaningless to compare MPs’ salaries and assets with those of the average working-age person because the average person doesn’t have the work load and responsibilities of most MPs. (I say most because there could be the odd list MP who does little to earn his/her salary and I specify list because any electorate MP who doesn’t more than earn his/her salary loses his/her seat).
Stock has made the wrong comparison and missed the real story.
A more meaningful comparison would be between MPs and people who run their own businesses or have senior management or governance roles.
A much more interesting, and useful, story would compare what MPs earned before they got into parliament with what they get as an MP.
An even more fascinating story would show how many, and from which party, took an income hit when they entered parliament; how many earn more as an MP than they did before and how many earn more afterwards.
Those comparisons would give us the real story.
Quote of the week from Jacqueline Rowarth in the print edition of the NBR:
New Zealand exports don’t necessarily have to increase in quantity to grow in value but growing in value through price means maintaining and improving reputation and that will take national support. It is word of mouth that has greatest impact at purchase time.
The ability of individual New Zealanders to afford the price of imported goods, including food, depends on that word being a good one. Food prices are on the increase – but so is the household income and that is because of exports . . .
It won’t be easy to appreciate the increase in the price of meat, fish, dairy produce and other foods we export when you’re at the supermarket.
But higher prices for locally produced food in the domestic market is because we’re getting more for them in overseas markets. That helps strengthen our economy which enables us to pay for imports and provides not just jobs but better paid ones.
Exporters complain about the high dollar, but consumers should be glad of it. The stronger kiwi dollar reduces the cost of imports including many food items, health products, vehicles and fuel.
Finance Minister Bill English has been quite clear – there is no money for an election year spend-up.
Prime Minister John Key is equally sure that tax and spend policies aren’t what the country needs. The message in an exclusive interview with the NBR he reinforces that message:
An even tighter rein on new spending than the current $1.1 billion cap is likely over the next few years, Prime Minister John Key says.
A much more aggressive approach to lowering New Zealand’s high national debt levels appears to be under way, with an emphasis on getting government spending under more control as well as on pushing greater private savings. . .
Mr Key said that as the economy recovers this year there is room to push harder on lowering government spending as a proportion of the economy.
Contrast that with Labour. The first policy announcement for the year came from Annette King who promised to extend paid parental leave and increase Working for Families’ payments.
How can a party which wants to be taken seriously ignore the need to reduce government spending? And why would a party which purports to represent poorer people start the year with policies most likely to benefit middle and upper income earners?
If ever there was an election when the party which plays Scrooge is likely to benefit it is this one.
When households are spending less and saving more they’re hardly likely to be receptive to a party which shows itself unwilling to demonstrate similar restraint.
On January 23:
971 In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han were soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops. The Southern Han state was forced to submit to the Song Dynasty, ending not only Southern Han rule, but also the first regular war elephant corps employed in a Chinese army that had gained the Southern Han victories throughout the 10th century.
1556 The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hit Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.
1570 The assassination of regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray threw Scotland into civil war.
1571 The Royal Exchange opened in London.
1579 The Union of Utrecht formed a Protestant republic in the Netherlands.
1719 The Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire.
1789 Georgetown College, the first Roman Catholic college in the United States, was founded.
1793 Second Partition of Poland: Russia and Prussia partitioned Poland for the second time.
1813 Camilla Collett, Norwegian writer and feminist, was born (d. 1895).
1849 Elizabeth Blackwell the USA’s first female doctor, was awarded her M.D. by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York.
1855 John Moses Browning, American inventor, was born (d. 1926).
1855 A magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit the Welington region.
1855 The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened.
1870 U.S. cavalrymen killed 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.
1897 Sir William Samuel Stephenson, Canadian soldier, W.W.II codename, Intrepid. Inspiration for James Bond., was born (d. 1989).
1897 Elva Zona Heaster was found dead.The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.
1899 Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as President of the First Philippine Republic.
1904 Ålesund Fire: the Norwegian coastal town Ålesund was devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead.
1907 Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American U.S. Senator.
1912 The International Opium Convention was signed at The Hague.
1920 The Netherlands refused to surrender ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to the Allies.
1948 Anita Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.
1951 Yachts left Wellington bound for Lyttelton in an ocean yacht race to celebrate Canterbury’s centenary. Only one, Tawhiri, officially finished the race. Two other yachts, Husky and Argo, were lost along with their 10 crew members.
1960 The bathyscaphe USS Trieste broke a depth record by descending to 10,911 m (35,798 feet) in the Pacific Ocean.
1973 A volcanic eruption devastated Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar chain of islands off the south coast of Iceland.
1997 Madeleine Albright became the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State.
2003 Final communication between Earth and Pioneer 10
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.