Word of the day


Flaneur – one who strolls or saunters about aimlessly; a lounger; a loafer; idler; dawdler.

Where are we?


Where do you believe we are, Adam?

Look . . . we’re naked, without a house and without work, but they say that this is Paradise. For me, we are in Argentina.

If we power back to the socialist 70s with LabourGreen policies, it won’t be much better in New Zealand.

Those were the bad old days


Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president, reminds us how it was in the bad old days:

. . .  the good old days, was one of wage and price freezes, exchange rate controls and carless days.

To those of us who can recall this period, it was not a stellar time for New Zealand economically.

An increasingly desperate government had all but exhausted the interventionist toolkit.

We seemed to have more controls than what the international space station currently has.

Tourists would joke, “I came to New Zealand but it was closed”.  From 1945 until October 1980, shops opened Monday to Thursday at 9am and closed at 5pm; late night Friday trading to 9pm was the week’s highlight. Limited Saturday trading from 1980 meant just that and families would wander the streets “window shopping” – an expression out of favour with those born from the late 1980’s.  Those who now shop on Sunday should know it only arrived in 1990 and following deregulation.

Prior to the 1980’s economic reforms, the entire New Zealand tax system was a dog’s breakfast.

The largest tax burden fell upon wage and salary earners who, in 1983/84, carried 64 percent of the burden. Today, it is less than 40 percent.

Personal income taxes were eye-wateringly high with 66 percent as the top rate and that started at $38,000 ($106,817 in today’s dollars). Tax avoidance and evasion were rife due to copious tax shelters, dodges and “cash jobs”. 

When it came to business and industry, if it moved it was taxed and regulated. If it stopped moving then it was protected and subsidised.

Looking back this led to some truly bizarre endeavours.

Up until the 1990’s, car manufacturers would build a car in Japan, disassemble it, put it into a container and ship it to New Zealand. Here, it would be reassembled but not necessarily as well. Today, we don’t much use the “Monday” or “Friday” car to denote reliability; indicative of car factory workers keen to get home, or to the pub.

You could also forget JetStar because the government-owned Air New Zealand had a monopoly on domestic air travel.

Trucks were limited to distance and to what they could carry to protect the government-owned railway.

Even then, the railway was legendary for high staffing and ability to wreck or lose goods.

Domestic shipping was protected to shelter the government-owned shipping corporation and the Cook Straight Ferry.

Ports were an inefficient union closed-shop.

Relevant to Labour’s desire to turn the clock back on power, private sector electricity generation was all but banned to protect government-owned generators.

Even courier services were strictly controlled to protect the government-owned Post Office’s monopoly.

As for telecommunications, you could forget moving house and having a phone immediately.

Outside of the state system, occupations behaved like guilds under legislative protection.  Numbers were strictly controlled to ensure that fortunate elite had a good life and an even better income.

In agriculture, subsidies filled warehouses all because government knew much better than the international marketplace.

These helped to create an expression some may still recognise, “the Queen Street Farmer”.

It was wrong but the system was milked until Federated Farmers worked with the Lange Labour Government to row it back.

Then again, the old Producer Board’s reputedly exchanged product for Lada cars made in the defunct Soviet Union.  At that time, I doubt many could have told our respective economic systems apart.

This was a New Zealand where strikes were a union tactic and going out consisted of a buffet restaurant. It was only in the late 1970’s that restaurants and sports clubs found it slightly easier to sell wine with food.

This is why I struggle with those who look back to a past that never was. . .

Those won’t the good old days and a LabourGreen government would take us back there.

We’lll pay for it


Keeping  Stock asks how much we’ll really save on power under a LabourGreen government?

Ministers Bill English and Steven Joyce gave the answer at yesterday’s National party Mainland conference: nothing, we’ll be paying more.

They’re promising households a $300 saving on power bills. Even if they can deliver on that which is most unlikely, they’re also going to impose a $500 cost through their ETS.

The best we can hope for under LabourGreen is a net $200 increase in our power bills, not any decrease.

Sunday soapbox


Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation.

You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is truly a mark of an educated man.

April 28 in history


357 – Emperor Constantius II entered Rome for the first time to celebrate his victory over Magnus Magnentius.

1192  Assassination of Conrad of Montferrat (Conrad I), King of Jerusalem, in Tyre, two days after his title to the throne was confirmed by election.

1253 Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk, propounded Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the very first time and declared it to be the essence of Buddhism, in effect founding Nichiren Buddhism.

1611 Establishment of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, the largest Catholic university in the world.

1715 Franz Sparry, composer, was born (d. 1767).

1758 James Monroe, 5th President of the United States, was born. (d. 1831).

1789 Mutiny on the Bounty: Captain William Bligh and 18 sailors were set adrift; the rebel crew returned to Tahiti briefly and then set sail for Pitcairn Island.

1792  France invaded the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium), beginning the French Revolutionary War.

1796  The Armistice of Cherasco was signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Vittorio Amedeo III, the King of Sardinia, expanding French territory along the Mediterranean coast.

1862 American Civil War: Admiral David Farragut captured New Orleans.

1888 – The first British rugby team to tour New Zealand played its first match, against Otago at the Caledonian Ground in South Dunedin.

1902  Using the ISO 8601 standard Year Zero definition for the Gregorian calendar preceded by the Julian calendar, the one billionth minute since the start of January 1, Year Zero occured at 10:40 AM on this date.

1912 Odette Sansom, French resistance worker, was born (d. 1995).

1916 Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian automobile manufacturer, was born (d. 1993).

1920 Azerbaijan was added to the Soviet Union.

1922 Alistair MacLean, Scottish novelist, was born (d. 1987).

1926 Harper Lee, American author, was born.

1930 The first night game in organised baseball history took place in Independence, Kansas.

1932 A vaccine for yellow fever was announced for use on humans.

1937 – Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, was born (d. 2006).

1941 – Jack Hinton won the Victoria Cross.

1941 Ann-Margret, Swedish-born actress, was born.

1945 Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement.

1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

1948 Terry Pratchett, English author, was born.

1949  Former First Lady of the Philippines Aurora Quezon, 61, was assassinated while en route to dedicate a hospital in memory of her late husband; her daughter and 10 others are also killed.

1950 Jay Leno, American comedian and television host, was born.

1950  Bhumibol Adulyadej married Queen Sirikit.

1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower resigned as Supreme Commander of NATO.

1952 Occupied Japan: The United States occupation of Japan ended with the ratification of Treaty of San Francisco.

1952 The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty (Treaty of Taipei) iwa signed in Taipei between Japan and the Republic of China to officially end the Second Sino-Japanese War.

1956 Jimmy Barnes,Scottish-born singer, was born.

1960  Ian Rankin, Scottish novelist, was born.

1965 United States troops landed in the Dominican Republic to “forestall establishment of a Communist dictatorship” and to evacuate U.S. Army troops.

1967  Expo 67 opened to the public in Montreal.

1969 Charles de Gaulle resigned as President of France.

1969 – Terence O’Neill announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

1970 Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon formally authorised American combat troops to fight communist sanctuaries in Cambodia.

1974 Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress, was born.

1977 The Red Army Faction trial ended with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe found guilty of four counts of murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder.

1977 The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure was signed.

1978 President of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by pro-communist rebels.

1981  Jessica Alba, American actress, was born.

1986 The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal, navigating from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to relieve the USS Coral Sea.

1987 American engineer Ben Linder was killed in an ambush by U.S. funded Contras in northern Nicaragua.

1988  Near Maui, Hawaii, flight attendant Clarabelle “C.B.” Lansing was blown out of Aloha Flight 243, a Boeing 737 and fell to her death when part of the plane’s fuselage rips open in mid-flight.

1994  Former C.I.A. official Aldrich Ames pleaded guilty to giving U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union and later Russia.

1996 Whitewater controversy: Bill Clinton gave a 4½ hour videotaped testimony for the defense.

1996 – In Tasmania Martin Bryant went on a shooting spree, killing 35 people and seriously injuring 21 more.

1997 – The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention goes into effect, with Russia, Iraq and North Korea among the nations that have not ratified the treaty.

2001 – Millionaire Dennis Tito became the world’s first space tourist.

2008 – A train collision in Shandong, China, killed 72 people and injured 416 more.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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