Word of the day


Deipnosophist – an adept conversationalist at table; a master of the art of dinner table conversation.



The Dominon Post still isn’t taking pity on political tragics and giving us a political triva quiz.

But it has got a buzz words and jargon quiz in which I scored 10/10.

A levy by any other name is a tax


A majority of people polled support a levy to support the Christchurch earthquake recovery.

The Green Party’s proposal for a temporary levy for rebuilding Christchurch has found considerable support from the public, according to a nationwide poll conducted by UMR.

However, the phone survey commissioned by the Greens also reveals support for a levy is weaker in Auckland, where almost as many of those who favoured the levy preferred big cuts to government spending programmes such as Working for Families.

Nationally, 40 per cent of respondents favoured the Greens’ levy plan over increased Crown debt or big spending cuts. Twenty two per cent preferred the Government borrow more while 29 per cent favoured cuts.

Preference for the levy was strongest at 49 per cent in Christchurch itself and weakest in Auckland at 34 per cent – only a shade above the 33 per cent of respondents there who wanted to see cuts to government spending. The difference is well within the survey’s margin of error.

Asked the slightly different question of whether they supported or opposed the levy, overall support ran at 57 per cent compared with 39 per cent opposed. Again, Aucklanders were almost evenly divided with 49 per cent supporting the levy and 47 per cent opposing it.

Call it what you like, a levy is a tax. To be effective it would have to be imposed acroos the board, not just on the wealthy, and continue for years.

I wonder what the response would have been to how much people would be willing to pay and for how long?

New Zealand is facing  two recoveries – Christchurch and the wider economy.

Both are interlinked both depend on a rebalancing away from borrowing and spending to savings, investment and export led growth.

Neither would be helped by higher tax.

Hone needs help


Hone Harawira reckons his fledgling party has wings but it hasn’t got a name.

Mr Harawira gave even stronger indication the party would go ahead when he said the possible name for the party had been discussed.

“We’re going to run an online competition for the name because there’s just so much interest from people wanting to come forward with one,” he said.

“If they said no, I’d tell you ‘it’s off’ … it certainly still has wings.”

It might also need a leader:

Mr Harawira told Radio New Zealand this morning that he would not necessarily lead any new party.

Hone obviously needs help – what should the party be called and who should lead it?

Term by term


National swallowed several dead rats before the 2008 election.

One of those was asset sales. Even though there are very good reasons for selling, partially or fully, some of the assets the state owns, National promised it would not do so in its first term. Furthermore the party made it clear it would go to the electorate with any plans it might have for sales in a subsequent term.

That is what it has done.

Among other dead rats swallowed was Working for Families

National has kept its promise not to touch it this term but has signalled there could be some changes if it is returned to government.

The party has been criticised for doing this. Opposition parties, and lobby groups outside parliament, are trying to say this is breaking a promise.

It is not. Some policies, and it is usually those which are fundamental planks of a party’s philosophy, are long term ones. Others are made for a term and new policy is developed and offered to the electorate for a mandate term by term.

National was very critical of Working for Families before the 2005 election but lost. It swallowed that dead rat to help it win the 2008 election. That commitment to not alter payments was for this term and it has been kept.

Once a policy has bedded in as this one has it is very difficult to ditch completely. But it is possible to make changes to lower the costs of it and there are pretty clear signals this will happen to Working for Families if National gets a second term.

Only died in the wool socialists and the deluded could think it is a good idea to pay upper income families benefits to help them buy luxuries in the best of times. Even they must realise that necessities must be the priority in what is now a much worse time but if they don’t they will have the chance to show that when they vote.

Labour’s list woes


In theory the party list should help bring new blood into parliament.

In practice it usually protects sitting MPs already holding list seats or those who might lose their electorates.

The problem is the list has to be ranked while parliament is still sitting and the party faces a conundrum with MPs they regard as past their best-by date. Do they risk putting their noses out of joint and have them with nothing to lose as they finish what they know will be the end of their parliamentary careers, or do they protect them with a list seat?

It doesn’t matter when you’re on an in-coming tide. It was a reasonably safe bet that National would have more MPs after the 2008 election than it had before it. Where someone was on the list might have mattered to egos but it wasn’t going to mean the difference between having another term or not.

Labour wasn’t in such a comfortable position. Sitting MPs lost electorates and took list places which kept fresh blood out and also left it with the problem they’ve faced in filling the seat vacated by Darren Hughes.

The task of ranking the list this coming weekend will be even more difficult because it is possible, perhaps even probable, they will win no new electorates. They might even lose one or more they hold and on present polling they could end up with fewer seats overall.

That means a lower list placing won’t just be a blow to an ego it could signal the end of a parliamentary career.

The debacle of a leadership strengthened only because no-one wants to take it on showed how unstable and fractured Labour’s caucus is. Adding MPs who know once list placings are decided that they have no chance of returning to parliament after the election to the mix will make that worse.

April 4 in history


On April 4:

1081 Alexios I Komnenos was crowned Byzantine emperor at Constantinople, beginning the Komnenian dynasty.

1581 Francis Drake was knighted for completing a circumnavigation of the world.

1655 The the Infant of Prague statue was solemnly crowned by command of Cardinal Harrach.

1660 Declaration of Breda by King Charles II of England.

1721  Sir Robert Walpole became the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom under King George I.

1802 Dorothea Dix, American social activist, was born (d. 1887).

1812  U.S. President James Madison enacted a ninety-day embargo on trade with the United Kingdom.

1814 Napoleon abdicated for the first time.

Full length portrait of Napoleon in his forties, in high-ranking white and dark blue military dress uniform. He stands amid rich 18th-century furniture laden with papers, and gazes at the viewer. His hair is Brutus style, cropped close but with a short fringe in front, and his right hand is tucked in his waistcoat.

1818 The United States Congress adopted the flag of the United States with 13 red and white stripes and one star for each state (then 20).

US flag 20 stars.svg

1841 William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia becoming the first President of the United States to die in office and the one with the shortest term served.

1850 The Great Fire of Cottenham, a large part of the Cambridgeshire village was burnt to the ground under suspicious circumstances.

1850 – Los Angeles was incorporated as a city.

1859 Bryant’s Minstrels debuted “Dixie” in New York City in the finale of a blackface minstrel show.

1866 Alexander II of Russia narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

1873 The Kennel Club was founded, the oldest and first official registry of purebred dogs in the world.

1887 Argonia, Kansas elected Susanna M. Salter as the first female mayor in the United States.

1905 The Kangra earthquake killed 20,000, and destroyed most buildings in Kangra, Mcleodganj and Dharamshala.

1905 Kangra earthquake is located in India

1913 The Greek aviator Emmanuel Argyropoulos becomes the first pilot victim of the Hellenic Air Force when his plane crashed.

1918 – World War I: Second Battle of the Somme ended.

1930 The Communist Party of Panama was founded.


1939 Faisal II became King of Iraq.

1944 World War II: First bombardment of Bucharest by Anglo-American forces killed 3000 civilians.

Bucharest bombed April 4, 1944 2.jpg

1945 World War II: American troops liberated Ohrdruf forced labour camp in Germany.

1945 – World War II: Soviet Army took control of Hungary.

1946 Dave Hill, English guitarist (Slade), was born.

1949  Twelve nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

1949 Junior Braithwaite, Jamaican singer (The Wailers), was born  (d. 1999).

1951 Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, was born.

1952 Gary Moore, Irish guitarist (Thin Lizzy), was born  (d. 2011).

1958 The CND Peace Symbol displayed in public for the first time in London.

Hollow circle with vertical line across diameter and two diagonal lines at 45 degree angle from center to lower edge of circle.

1960 Senegal independence day.

1963 Graham Norton, Irish talk show host, was born.

1964 The Beatles occupied the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

1965 The first model of the new Saab Viggen fighter aircraftplane was unveiled.

1967  Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech in New York City’s Riverside Church.

Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS.jpg

1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

1968 – Apollo programme: NASA launched Apollo 6.

Apollo program insignia.png

1968 – AEK Athens BC became the first Greek team to win the European Basketball Cup.

AEK Athens BC logo

1969 Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the first temporary artificial heart.

1973 The World Trade Center in New York was officially dedicated.

Wtc arial march2001.jpg

1975 Microsoft was founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Microsoft wordmark.svg

1975 Vietnam War:  Operation Baby Lift – A United States Air Force C-5A Galaxy crashed near Saigon shortly after takeoff, transporting orphans – 172 died.

1976 Prince Norodom Sihanouk resignws as leader of Cambodia and was placed under house arrest.

1979 Heath Ledger, Australian actor, was born  (d. 2008).

Close up of a man's face with brown eyes and hair, tousled hair and scraggly beard growth. He is looking toward his left. He is wearing a grey jumper with an orange stripe near his left shoulder and upper left arm. The background is blue with out of focus writing.

1979  Jessica Napier, New Zealand actress, was born.

1979 President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan was executed.

1983 Space Shuttle Challenger made its maiden voyage into space (STS-6).


1984 President Ronald Reagan called for an international ban on chemical weapons.

1991 Senator John Heinz and six others were killed when a helicopter collided with their plane over an elementary school in Merion, Pennsylvania.

1994 Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark found Netscape Communications Corporation under the name “Mosaic Communications Corporation”.


2001 Dame Silvia Cartwright became Governor General of New Zealand.

Silvia Cartwright becomes Governor General

2002 The Angolan government and UNITA rebels signed a peace treaty ending the Angolan Civil War.


2007 15 British Royal Navy personnel held in Iran were released by the Iranian President.

2008 – In a raid on the FLDS’s YFZ Ranch in Texas, 401 children and 133 women were taken into state custody.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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