Word of the day


Hebetude –  the state of being dull,  enervated or lethargic; dullness of mind, mental lethargy.

Labour lowers wages, threatens jobs


When National announced its policy to automatically enrol people for KiwiSaver but allow them to opt out, Finance Minister Bill English was asked why not go the whole way and make the scheme compulsory.

He replied that some people would not have enough money and others would have better things to do with it.

The really poor already find too much week left at the end of their pay packets. Reducing their take home pay be taking more, albeit for savings for their own retirements, will cause real hardship.

Other people would have higher priorities for spare money such as paying off mortgages or other debt or investing in their education or business.

Labour’s policy of compulsory KiwiSaver would  make life more difficult for the poor and take choice away for those with better ways to invest in their futures.

The other part of the policy – increasing employer contributions to 8%, will result in lower wages.

Few if any employers would be able to absorb the increased cost of higher contributions.  The choices are increasing the price for the goods and services they produce or reducing costs elsewhere and the obvious place to do that is in the wages of workers whose superannuation they are subsidising.

They can do that by having fewer staff or paying those they do have, less.

Wages might not come down but they either won’t go up or will increase much more slowly if employer subsidies increase under Labour’s policy.

This policy in isolation will make employers more hesitant to take on extra staff. Combining it with increasing the minimum wage to $15 will increase the hesitation.

Lowering wages and threatening jobs is not the policy of a worker-friendly party.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: “Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”?

2. It’s impôts in French,  tassa or imposta in Italian, impuesto in Spanish and tāke  in Maori, what is it in English?

3. Name the three hydro dams on the Waitaki River.

4. Who wrote and performed You’re So Vain?

5. What is a balalaika?

Fined for producing more


Milk production in Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands has been higher than expected.

That ought to be cause for celebration in a world we keep being told is short on food and where developing countries are hungry for protein.

But no, they will be fined a total of €221m because they exceeded their annual quota.

What makes it even sillier is that 14 countries produced less than their quota and total EU production was 6% lower than quota.

The quota system is to be phased out as part of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy which aim to end government protection for the dairy industry.

The process of getting away from protection can be painful but this is a good example of what’s wrong with letting governments and bureaucrats interfere in trade.

Leaving the market to set the price is better for producers and consumers.



Thursday’s quiz will turn up later. In the meantime see if you can beat my 6/10 in the Herald’s Changing World quiz,

Printing money for expensive promises


Sideswipe received a Labour Party flyer from a reader who says:

“Folks in South Auckland have just got a flyer from Labour. On the back is printed a perfect $100 note, right down to the serial number, watermarks and Doc Bollard’s signature. And no trace of ‘sample only’. The folded flyer appears to be the real deal. Perhaps it’s a Machiavellian attempt by Labour strategists to drive up inflation and damage the Nats’ record?”

Isn’t there a law about copying money like this?

Even if there’s not, how disappointing for the recipients who think they’re getting cash and find it’s only expensive promises.

Some on the left do think printing more money would solve our problems. Maybe that’s how Labour plans to fill the $9 billion hole it’s got in the cost of its policies over four years.


Sorry not sorry


The only reason a senior MP would go on a hiding to nothing by standing in an electorate he couldn’t possibly win would be if he was desperately seeking publicity.

Labour’s Epsom candidate David Parker must have thought the strategy wasn’t working so he sought more publicity by asking for a guest post on Kiwiblog.

He was given plenty of rope. He didn’t hang himself but he did tangle himself up with it and fall flat on his face when he said the Sensible Sentencing Trust had bought a place on Act’s list for David Garrett through a large donation to the party.

It must be a difficult concept for a leftwing politician, so used to unions, to grasp. But most lobby groups are not politically aligned and don’t donate to political parties.

The SST and Act Party both immediately refuted the statement.

As soon as the lie was exposed, blog host David Farrar posted an update saying the statement was wrong.

Very belatedly Parker asked for this to be added:

Garth McVicar has today (25 October) said that the Sensible Sentencing Trust has not made donations of money to any political party, including Act. It appears from his statement that the only gift the Trust itself made to Act was David Garrett. What donations, if any, came from members of the so-called Sensible Sentencing Trust to Mr Garrett or Act  I do not know.

That’s a very sorry example of how to show you’re not sorry.

No voluntary organisation can control what its members do with their own money and what they do as individuals is their own business unless they choose to publicise it.

Had anyone made a large donation the party is required by law to declare it.

It would be difficult to know if an individual donor was a member of the SST or any other organisation unless they said so. Most voluntary organisations respect the privacy of their members and don’t make their membership public.

I don’t know enough about the law to know if what was written was actionable.

But like most not-for-profit groups , largely run on the goodwill of volunteers, the SST will need every cent it raises for its own work and this slur on its integrity will damage its ability to fund raise.

However, the greater damage is that which was self-inflicted. Mud spatters the one who throws it and this episode has left Parker looking both petty and dirty.

Top two inches


Labour’s decision to have no campaign launch is possibly the first time in history that a political party has given up the opportunity to get a wee bit of free publicity.

It might be lack of money, it might be the inability to muster sufficient troops, it might be fear that a campaign launch would do more harm than good.

Whatever it is, it’s a peculiar strategy and the launch isn’t the only thing that is missing from Labour’s campaign.

The top two inches are missing from the photos of several candidates on the party’s hoardings.

Is it artistic perspective, or a subliminal message about the intellectual rigor that’s missing from the party as evidenced by its campaign strategy and back to the 70s policy?

October 27 in history


312  Constantine the Great was said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross.

939 Edmund I succeeded Athelstan as King of England.

1275  Traditional founding of the city of Amsterdam.

1524 Italian Wars: The French troops laid siege to Pavia.

1553  Condemned as a heretic, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake.

1644  Second Battle of Newbury in the English Civil War.

1728 James Cook, British naval captain and explorer, was born (d. 1779).

1795  The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Madrid, which established the boundaries between Spanish colonies and the U.S.

1811 Isaac Singer, American inventor, was born (d. 1875).

1838  Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issued the Extermination Order, which ordered all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated.

1858  Theodore Roosevelt, 26th USA President, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1919).

1870 Marshal François Achille Bazaine with 140,000 French soldiers surrendered to Prussian forces at Metz in one of the biggest French defeats of the Franco-Prussian War.

1904 The first underground New York City Subway line opened.

1914  Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, was born (d. 1953).

1914   The British super-dreadnought battleship HMS Audacious (23,400 tons), was sunk off Tory Island by a minefield laid by the armed German merchant-cruiser Berlin.

HMS Audacious LOC 17766.jpg

1916  Battle of Segale: Negus Mikael, marching on the Ethiopian capital in support of his son Emperor Iyasus V, was defeated by Fitawrari abte Giyorgis, securing the throne for Empress Zauditu.

1922  A referendum in Rhodesia rejected the country’s annexation to the South African Union.

1924  The Uzbek SSR was founded in the Soviet Union.

1932  Sylvia Plath, American poet, was born (d. 1963).

1939 John Cleese, British actor and writer, was born.

1943  New Zealanders from 8 Brigade, New Zealand 3rd Division, helped their American allies cleared Mono Island of its Japanese defenders.

NZ troops make first opposed landing since Gallipoli

1945  Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, was born.

1948  Léopold Sédar Senghor founded the Senegalese Democratic Bloc.

1950 Fran Lebowitz, American writer, was borhn.

1953  British nuclear test Totem 2 was carried out at Emu Field, South Australia.

1954  Benjamin O. Davis Jr. became the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.

1958  Simon Le Bon, English singer (Duran Duran), was born.

1958  Iskander Mirza, the first President of Pakistan, was deposed in a bloodless coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who had been appointed the enforcer of martial law by Mirza 20 days earlier.

1961  NASA launched the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

1962  Major Rudolf Anderson of the United States Air Force became the only direct human casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis when his U-2 reconnaissance airplane was shot down in Cuba by a Soviet-supplied SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile.

1964  Ronald Reagan delivered a speech “A Time for Choosing” which luanched his political career.

1967  Catholic priest Philip Berrigan and others of the Baltimore Four protest the Vietnam War by pouring blood on Selective Service records.

1970  Alama Ieremia, All Black, was born.

1971  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was renamed Zaire.

1973  The Cañon City meteorite, a 1.4 kg chondrite type meteorite, struck in Fremont County, Colorado.

1981 The Soviet submarine U 137 ran aground on the east coast of Sweden.

1986  The British government suddenly deregulated financial markets, leading to a total restructuring of the way in which they operated in the country, in an event referred to as the Big Bang.

1988   Ronald Reagan decided to tear down the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow because of Soviet listening devices in the building structure.

1991 Turkmenistan achieved independence from the Soviet Union.

1992  United States Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. was murdered by shipmate Terry M. Helvey for being gay.

1994  The U.S. prison population topped 1 million for the first time.

1994 Gliese 229B was the first Substellar Mass Object to be unquestionably identified.

1997 October 27, 1997 mini-crash: Stock markets around the world crashed because of fears of a global economic meltdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average  fell 554.26 points to 7,161.15. For the first time, the New York Stock Exchange activated its “circuit breakers” twice during the day eventually making the controversial move of closing the Exchange early.

1999  Gunmen opened fire in the Armenian Parliament, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, Parliament Chair Karen Demirchyan, and 6 other members.

2005 Riots began in Paris after the deaths of two Muslim teenagers.

2005 The SSETI Express micro-satellite was successfully launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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