Word of the day


Aleatoric – dependent on chance, luck or an uncertain outcome;  of or characterised by gambling; music in which elements traditionally determined by the composer are determined either by a process of random selection chosen by the composer or by the exercise of choice by the performer(s);  indeterminate.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions are here.

I don’t think anyone stumped everyone, though you all stumped me.

Moral argument against high taxation


Quote of the day:

WE ALL know the moral arguments for taxation: it pays for police, roads, hospitals and other vital services. But there is a moral case against taxation too – and a surprisingly strong one.

First, while most of us would happily make some voluntary contribution to essential services, it is only the threat of prison that makes us stump up taxes at today’s eye-watering levels. Tax is extracted by force – and the use of force is an evil we want to minimise. That puts an awesome responsibility on governments to ensure that every penny they extract through coercion is spent wisely. Waste and bureaucracy are not just a drain on the economy – they are a moral outrage.

But not only is taxation a form of confiscation by coercion. It is confiscation by groups who believe their values and priorities are superior to other people’s – a breathtaking moral claim. . . EAMONN BUTLER

Hat tip: Taxpayers’ Alliance

Shareholders’ Council supports TAF – chair resigns


Simon Couper, resigned as chair of Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council over the Trading Among Farmers proposal:

Couper’s resignation followed a majority vote by the council in support of the TAF proposal, a view which clashed with his own and made his position untenable, he told BusinessDesk.

“I respect the council’s decision,” he said, but was not personally convinced that the scheme would meet the bottom line objective of securing 100 percent ongoing farmer ownership of Fonterra in perpetuity.

“One hundred percent is 100 percent and in my view, we didn’t get there,” he said, after the council completed a due diligence process on the detail of the TAF scheme, which will go to a special shareholders’ vote on June 25.

Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said Couper has done the right thing by the co-operative:

The situation was “not ideal”, van der Heyden told BusinessDesk. “But hey, I’m delighted about where the Shareholders Council got to”, with replacement chairman Ian Brown reporting “a very strong” mandate from the rest of the council.

“I don’t know exactly what the number are, but north of 80 percent,” he said.

The numbers are important because at least some of the votes at a special shareholders’ meeting on June 25 to approve TAF will require 75 percent majority support and involve constitutional change. . .

Couper’s resignation notwithstanding, the Shareholders’ Council’s support of the proposal makes it much more likely farmers will support TAF.

The proposal is contentious and is not without risk.

But there is a greater risk to the company in doing nothing about the threat which could come if too many farmers redeem their shares.


Budget passes talkback test


Driving home from Christchurch last night I tuned into talkback, expecting to hear the usual suspects ranting against the government.

But the Budget was hardly mentioned.

A couple of smokers wanted higher taxes on tobacco to force them to stop smoking, a woman said prescription charge increases weren’t too bad and a recent graduate was pleased with the increase in the repayment rate for student loans because it would mean she’d clear her debt sooner.

However, most callers ignored the Budget and talked about the sentencing of Tame Iti and Rangi Kemara .

As Budgets go boring is best and the lack of interest from callers show it passed the talkback test.

It was a steady-as-she goes Budget, keeping costs down and directing most money to the areas of greatest need – health, education and welfare.

It was a responsible Budget, keeping on track for a return to surplus.

It didn’t excite talkback callers, but it did reassure ratings agency Standards and Poors.

S&P, which cut New Zealand’s rating last year, said Finance Minister’s Bill English’s budget is the “latest incremental step toward consolidating the government’s fiscal settings after four years  of deficits” from the country’s recession and costs relating to the Canterbury earthquakes.

“The fiscal outlook faces a number of challenges, including renewed uncertainties surrounding trading partner growth and the outlook for agricultural commodity prices, which may further pressure revenues and hamper the government’s efforts to stabilise its fiscal position,” credit analyst Kyran Curry said in a statement.

English today charted the way back to an operating surplus in 2015 by hiking the excise tax on tobacco, giving Inland Revenue more scope to chase tax dodgers and holding off auto-enrolments in KiwiSaver. The budget will introduce just $26.5 million of new spending this financial year, and will look to make $4.49 billion of cuts over the next four years.

S&P retained the stable outlook on New Zealand’s rating, reflecting the expectation of more fiscal consolidation, against the backdrop of high private sector external debt.

The rating agency has ignored mutterings from Opposition parties about introducing exchange rate controls and tinkering with monetary policy target agreements, saying it believes the current fiscal strategy will remain “supported by strong bipartisan and policy and community backing for conservative public finances.”

 Mutter Opposition parties may, but if the talkback test is any indication, the public understand that debt-fuelled spending made the economy sick and the medicine the government is delivering is needed to make it better.

May 25 in history


1085 Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo, Spain back from the Moors.

1420  Henry the Navigator was appointed governor of the Order of Christ.

1521  The Diet of Worms ended when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.

1659  Richard Cromwell resigned as Lord Protector of England following the restoration of the Long Parliament, beginning a second brief period of the republican government called the Commonwealth of England.

1738  A treaty between Pennsylvania and Maryland ended the Conojocular War with settlement of a boundary dispute and exchange of prisoners.

1787 In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, delegates convened a Constitutional Convention to write a new Constitution for the United States. George Washington presided.

1803 Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and philosopher, was born (d. 1882).

1809 Chuquisaca Revolution: a group of patriots in Chuquisaca (modern day Sucre) revolted against the Spanish Empire, starting the South American Wars of Independence.

1810 May Revolution: citizens of Buenos Aires expelled Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros during the May week, starting the Argentine War of Independence.

1837  The Patriots of Lower Canada (Quebec) rebelled against the British.

1865  In Mobile, Alabama, 300 were killed when an ordnance depot exploded.

1878 Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, American entertainer, was born (d. 1949).

1878  Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London.

1892 Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav resistance leader and later president, was born (d. 1980).

1895  Playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to serve two years in prison.

1895  The Republic of Formosa was formed, with Tang Ching-sung as the president.

1913  Richard Dimbleby, British journalist and broadcaster, was born (d. 1965).

1914  The United Kingdom’s House of Commons passed the Home Rule Act for devolution in Ireland.

1921 Hal David, American lyricist and songwriter, was born.

1925  John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

1926 Sholom Schwartzbard assassinated  Symon Petliura, the head of the Paris-based government-in-exile of Ukrainian People’s Republic.

1927 Robert Ludlum, American writer was born (d. 2001).

1933 Basdeo Panday, 5th Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, was born.

1935  Jesse Owens broke five world records and ties a sixth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

1936 Tom T. Hall, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1936  The Remington Rand strike, led by the American Federation of Labor, begins.

1938 Raymond Carver, American writer, was born  (d. 1988).

1938 Spanish Civil War: The bombing of Alicante caused 313 deaths.

1939 Ian McKellen, English actor, was born.

1940  World War II: The Battle of Dunkirk began.

1946  The parliament of Transjordan made Abdullah I of Jordan their king.

1953  At the Nevada Test Site, the United States conducted its first and only nuclear artillery test.

1953 The first public television station in the United States officially began broadcasting as KUHT from the campus of the University of Houston.

1955 A night time F5 tornado struck f Udall, Kansas, killing 80 and injuring 273.

1955  First ascent of Kangchenjunga (8,586 m.), the third highest mountain in the world, by a British expedition.

1959 Julian Clary, British television personality, was born.

1961 Apollo program: John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a “man on the moon” before the end of the decade.

1962  The Old Bay Line, the last overnight steamboat service in the United States, went out of business.

1963 In Addis Ababa, the Organisation of African Unity was established.

1966  Explorer 32 launched.

1966 The first prominent DaZiBao during the Cultural Revolution in China was posted at Peking University.

1967  Celtic Football Club became the first Scottish, British and northern European team to win the European Cup, beating Inter 2–1 in the Estádio Nacional, in Lisbon.

1978 Bastion Point protestors were evicted.

Bastion Point protestors evicted

1979  American Airlines Flight 191: A McDonnell Douglas DC-10 crashed during takeoff at O’Hare International Airport killing 271 on board and two people on the ground.

1979  Six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from the street just two blocks away from his New York home, prompting an International search for the child, and causing President Ronald Reagan to designate May 25th as National Missing Children’s Day (in 1983).

1981  In Riyadh, the Gulf Cooperation Council was created between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

1982  HMS Coventry  was sunk during the Falklands War.

1985 Bangladesh was hit by a tropical cyclone and storm surge, which killed approximately 10,000 people.

1997  A military coup in Sierra Leone replaced President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah with Major Johnny Paul Koromah.

1999 The United States House of Representatives released the Cox Report which detailed China‘s nuclear espionage against the U.S. over the prior two decades.

2000  Liberation Day of Lebanon. Israel withdrew its army from most of the Lebanese territory after 22 years of its first invasion in 1978.

2001  Erik Weihenmayer  became the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

2002  China Airlines Flight 611: A Boeing 747-200 broke apart in mid-air and plunged into the Taiwan Strait killing 225 people.

2002  A train crash in Tenga, Mozambique killed 197 people.

2009  North Korea allegedly tested its second nuclear device.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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