Quote of the day

March 30, 2016

There’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to a highly trained intelligence leapfrogging common sense and coming to the wrong conclusions. It gives me renewed faith in parliamentary democracy. – Tom Sharpe who was born on this day in 1928.


March 30 in history

March 30, 2016

240 BC 1st recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet.

1282 The people of Sicily rebelled against the Angevin KingCharles I, in what became known as the Sicilian Vespers.

1296 Edward I sacked Berwick-upon-Tweed, during armed conflict between Scotland and England.

1746 Francisco Goya, Spanish painter, was born  (d. 1828).

1811 Robert Bunsen, German chemist, was born (d. 1899).

1814 Napoleonic Wars: Sixth Coalition forces marched into Paris.

1814 – Joachim Murat issued the Rimini Declaration which later inspired Italian Unification.

1820 Anna Sewell, British author, was born (d. 1878).

1842 Anesthesia was used for the first time in an operation by Dr Crawford Long.

1844 One of the most important battles of the Dominican War of Independence from Haiti took place near the city of Santiago de los Caballeros.

1853 Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter, was born  (d. 1890).

1855 Origins of the American Civil War: Bleeding Kansas – “Border Ruffians” from Missouri invaded Kansas and forced election of a pro-slavery legislature.

1856 The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War.

1858 Hymen Lipman patented a pencil with an attached rubber.

1863 Danish prince Wilhelm Georg was chosen as King George of Greece.

1864 Franz Oppenheimer, German sociologist, was born (d. 1943).

1867 Alaska was purchased for $7.2 million, about 2 cent/acre ($4.19/km²), by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward. The media called this Seward’s Folly.

1870 Texas was readmitted to the Union following Reconstruction.

1885 The Battle for Kushka triggered the Pandjeh Incident which nearly gave rise to war between the British and Russian Empires.

1909 The Queensboro Bridge opened, linking Manhattan and Queens.

1910  The Mississippi Legislature founded The University of Southern Mississippi.

1912 Sultan Abdelhafid signed the Treaty of Fez, making Morocco a French protectorate.

1913 Frankie Laine, American singer, was born (d. 2007).

1918 Outburst of bloody March Events in Baku and other locations of Baku Governorate.

1928 Tom Sharpe, English satirical author, was born (d. 2013).

1930 Rolf Harris, Australian artist and entertainer, was born.

1937 Warren Beatty, American actor and director, was born.

1939 The Heinkel He 100 fighter sets a world airspeed record of 463 mph.

1939 – First flight of the Australian C.A.C. CA-16 Wirraway.

1940 – Funeral procession for Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

1940 Sino-Japanese War: Japan declared Nanking to be the capital of a new Chinese puppet government, nominally controlled by Wang Ching-wei.

1941 Graeme Edge, British musician (Moody Blues), was born.

1945  Eric Clapton, British guitarist, was born.

1945 World War II: Soviet Union forces invaded Austria and took Vienna; Polish and Soviet forces liberated Gdańsk.

1945 – World War II: a defecting German pilot delivered a MesserschmittMe 262A-1 to the Americans.

1949  A riot broke out in Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík, when Iceland joined NATO.

1950 Robbie Coltrane, Scottish actor and comedian, was born.

1954  Yonge Street subway line opened in Toronto, the first subway in Canada.

1959 Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, who was convicted of child abuse at the Christchurch Civic Creche, was born.

1961  The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was signed in New York.

1962 MC Hammer, American rap musician, was born.

1964 Tracy Chapman, American singer, was born,

1965 Vietnam War: A car bomb exploded in front of the US Embassy, Saigon, killing 22 and wounding 183 others.

1968 Celine Dion, Canadian singer, was born.

1972  Vietnam War: The Easter Offensive began after North Vietnamese forces cross into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of South Vietnam.

1979 Airey Neave, a British MP, was killed by a car bomb as left the Palace of Westminster. The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

1979 Norah Jones, American musician, was born.

1981 President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.

1982 Space Shuttle programme: STS-3 Mission was completed with the landing of Columbia at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

2004 – Historian Michael King died.

2006  The United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2006 became law.

2009 – Twelve gunmen attacked the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore, Pakistan.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


366 days of gratitude

March 29, 2016

The sign a few hundred metres from our house signalling a right-hand bend has been knocked over.

I noticed it on my walk this morning and phoned the District Council to report it.

I was expecting to have to go through at least a couple of people before getting to where I needed to be. But the woman who took the call asked me for the details and said she’d pass all the information on to the people who would replace the pole.

Today I’m grateful for a real person at the end of the phone who was both willing and able to deal with my report efficiently.


Word of the day

March 29, 2016

Stygian – relating to the River Styx; extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding;  hellish, infernal; unbreakable or completely binding or inviolable (said of an oath).


Rural round-up

March 29, 2016

Rural economy is not all doom and gloom:

All is not gloomy in the agricultural community even though collapsing dairy prices have left a hole at the heart of the sector, New Zealand farming analysts say.

And while dairy problems are having a ricochet effect on other farmers, some areas of the rural economy are doing well and others are booming.

One of the most optimistic sectors is the apple and pear industry. . . 

Not enough mouths – Annette Scott:

Rain has hit the spot for much of the South Island’s parched farmland but with it has come a new challenge – what to do with the feed.

The countrywide shortage of livestock was starting to kick in sooner than expected, Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Peter Reveley said.

“We have had some absolutely brilliant rain. . . 

Waikato Lavender Farm owners farewell business after 20 years – Kelsey Wilkie:

After 20 years at the helm, the founders of Waikato’s Lavender Farm are moving on.

Ian and Bev Parlane opened the gates to the Alphra Lavenders farm at Orakau, 8km south of Te Awamutu, 20 years ago.

The purple garden spreads across one hectare.  . . 

Ham-fisted definitely, incompetent possibly – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s succession of ultimatums to its suppliers smack of ham-fisted bullying and incompetence. The company’s first ultimatum was to push payment terms out to 90 days for a ‘small percentage’ of its New Zealand suppliers in line with its global practice , followed by an invitation to attend Dragon’s Den type negotiating sessions in which it has served notice it will demand 20% price reductions.

There is nothing wrong or sinister about a customer trying to negotiate better terms of trade as a means of increasing efficiency, but in Fonterra’s case the company appears to have completely ignored the value of proper communication and relationships with its suppliers. Many of these will be contractors that have devoted resources and valuable service over a number of years; these contractors will be an integral cog in the life and prosperity of the rural communities they serve and live in. . . 

Political high-fliers win farming award: ‘Cows don’t talk back’  – Gerald Piddock:

Two novices running a dairy farm have taken the title of regional Share Farmers of the Year – and it’s not just their career change that’s gaining attention. 

Matthew Herbert and Brad Markham say they are also the first same-sex couple to win a trophy at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

The former political advisor and journalist crossed the ditch two years ago, swapping talk with Australia’s top politicians to pulling teats on a dairy farm. . . 

These vitamin fortified bananas might get you thinking differently about GMOs – Nathanael Johnson:

In the winter of 2014, students at Iowa State University received emails asking them to volunteer for an experiment. Researchers were looking for women who would eat bananas that had been genetically engineered to produce extra carotenes, the yellow-orange nutrients that take their name from carrots. Our bodies use alpha and beta carotenes to make retinol, better known as vitamin A, and the experiment was testing how much of the carotenes in the bananas would transform to vitamin A. The researchers were part of an international team trying to end vitamin A deficiency.

The emails reached the volunteers they needed to begin the experiment, but they also reached protesters. “As a student in the sustainability program, I immediately started asking questions,” said Iowa State postdoc Rivka Fidel. “Is this proven safe? Have they considered the broader cultural and economic issues?” . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

New Zealand’s fisheries continue to perform well, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says.

He was commenting on the latest Status of New Zealand Fisheries report published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Around 83 per cent of individual fish stocks of known status and almost 97 per cent of landings are above or well above levels where their sustainability would be a cause for concern, he says.

“These figures are the result of a robust process and show that we are as good as or beyond the standard of the best in the world,” he says. . . 


More than a little stupid

March 29, 2016

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, which is stupidest of all?

Strong arming banks and legislation was rightly met with indignation.

Then came 200 bucks for “free”, funded from tax paid by you and me.

And now you want the flag to change by whatever process you arrange.

If you think you’re going to pick it, you know just where you can stick it.

 

March hasn’t been a good month for Andrew Little, the Labour Party and anyone with hopes they might soon be fit to lead a government.

Little’s attempt to get onside with farmers by suggestions of strong arming banks and legislating to force them to reduce interest rates was met with the derision it deserved.

Then he came up with the proposal of a Universal Basic Income which, as the Herald points out is an idea that’s more bad than good  :

. . . The economy would suffer under punitive levels of taxation, avoidance would be rife, and the benefits would be illusory. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union points out a UBI would require income tax rates of 50% or more:

A Universal Basic Income which avoided superannuates and beneficiaries being made worse off would require a flat rate income tax of more than 50% or drastic cuts in government services to pay for it, according to a new report released today.

The report, Money for all: the winners and losers from a Universal Basic Income, by economist Jim Rose, examines the Labour Party’s “Future of Work” proposal for a UBI and the more modest proposal by the Morgan Foundation.

A more affordable version of Labour’s scheme, such as that proposed by the Morgan Foundation of $11,000 per annum ($210 per week), would cost $11 billion dollars more than the existing welfare system, while making solo mothers $150 per week worse off. For superannuates, a UBI at this level would see their weekly income reduced by $50.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“We find it startling that the Labour Party would be floating the idea of a replacement to the welfare system that would see those most vulnerable in society being far worse off. A UBI replaces helping those most in need with handouts to the middle-class and millionaires.”

“If you take Labour’s assurances that no one will be left worse off under their UBI, the amount would need to be so high that Treasury’s economic modelling suggests that a flat income tax of between 50.6% and 55.7% would be needed to pay for it.”

“Here is a political party which for years has rightly been telling New Zealanders that current superannuation entitlements are unaffordable. Now they want to effectively extend the same scheme to every New Zealander from the age of 18.”

“The Morgan Foundation proposes to pay for its more modest UBI with a tax on those holding capital. Such a tax would incentivise all those modern and innovative industries Labour want to encourage, to shift off-shore.”

Jim Rose, the author of the report, says:

“We don’t believe Labour have fully considered the consequence of a UBI on labour supply and economic incentives. People would almost certainly work fewer hours meaning that the burden of supporting the programme would be borne by a fewer number of taxable working hours, potentially requiring even further tax increases.”

“Even the Labour Party’s own paper concedes that the taxes that would be required to fund a UBI higher than $11,000 per year may be ‘unrealistically high’. The analysis in the report certainly backs that.”

Key points and conclusions:

• The Morgan proposal would cost $10 billion more than the current welfare system but leave those most in need worse off.

• For a UBI to achieve any reduction in poverty levels, or to avoid it costing those in society who most need help, much higher taxes are required. These reduce the incentives to work and economic growth.

• A UBI which allowed those currently receiving benefits and/or superannuation would need to be at least $15,000 per year (equivalent to the current average level of benefits). To pay for this, Treasury estimate that a flat income tax of between 45% and 56% would need to be introduced (assuming other taxes stayed equal).

• Child poverty is not reduced by a UBI less than $15,000 per year because single parents receive no more income support than before.

• A UBI would likely push the New Zealand economy into recession off the back of the reduced labour supply from the windfall increase in incomes alone.

One of the National-led government’s successes is a reduction in number of people in long term benefit dependency with all the financial and social costs that go with it.

A UBI would reverse the good done by that and encourage more people into welfare dependency.

Not content with these two bad ideas, this morning Little has come up with another:

In the wake of the flag referendum, the opposition leader said he voted against the alternative as it “doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all”.

“I’m pleased to say we haven’t adopted it,” he said. 

Mr Little said the country should revisit the issue “sooner rather than later”, suggesting a flag that “genuinely represents who we are, the diversity that is New Zealand”. 

Doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all? Anyone’s views on the merits of the alternative flag are a matter of opinion but there is no arguing that the Southern Cross reflects New Zealand’s place in the world and that the fern is recognised as a symbol of New Zealand here and abroad.

It was used long before sports teams adopted it and they did so for that reason.

That aside, there is a mood for change but Little can’t lead it.

He voted for the legislation which set the process, campaigned for Labour with a policy to change the flag then, after the election put political expediency before his principles by criticising the process, the timing and the cost.

The time to criticise the process was before voting for it.

If the timing was wrong last week, it can’t be right this week.

And if the cost of the process we’ve just gone through was too high, another process “sooner rather than later” is even higher.

The party partisan part of me is amused by the way Little stumbles from one demonstration that he’s more than a little stupid to another.

The rest of me is concerned that the leader of the second biggest party in government keeps showing he’s ill-fitted to lead the Opposition let alone a government.

 

 


Quote of the day

March 29, 2016

Talent is always more interesting – ambition is not interesting. If you have talent, you have to find ways of expressing it, but you may not be a success in the world’s terms. Eric Idle who celebrates his 73rd birthday today.


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