366 days of gratitude

May 16, 2016

It was pouring when I left Wanaka yesterday.

It continued to pour through the Lindis Pass and was still raining when I got to Omarama.

Going up the Otematata Saddle it was only drizzling and on the other side it was dry.

Today started warm and fine but clouds rolled in this afternoon and at last it started to rain.

Until today we’d had only 45 mls of rain, this afternoon we got another 5.

The rain has stopped for now but I”m very grateful for what we got today.


Word of the day

May 16, 2016

Legerdemain – skilful use of one’s hands when performing conjuring tricks; deceitful cleverness; deception; trickery.


Surplus challenges

May 16, 2016

The government is facing challenges, Finance Minister Bill English told the National Party’s Mainland conference at the weekend.

The prospect of economic growth is good but brings with it the challenge of dealing with ongoing surpluses.

The government books scraped into surplus last year but few would have been surprised if they slipped back into deficit given low dairy prices and the various problems facing many of our trading partners.

However, the government is now looking ahead to multi-billion dollar surpluses in the short to medium term which provides the challenge of how best to use that money.

The opposition and the usual other suspects who think the quantity of spending matters more than quality have been calling for increased spending in all sorts of areas. Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar has calculated that meeting the demands would require a top tax rate of 100%.

But this government has a much better focus than the quantity of spending.As the Finance Minister saidWe measure spending by results rather than the level of spending.

Some issues do require more money now in order to reduce future costs and that is why the government has taken an investment approach to social spending with a whole-of-government approach.

At the conference, Justice Minister Amy Adams spoke about this and explained that getting better results in her portfolio didn’t require more money for it. What was needed was spending that addressed the drivers of crime – welfare dependency and poor education and health.

Few would argue with that, but increased surpluses don’t only give the government the ability to spend more, it also has room to take less.

Last week’s announcement that there won’t be tax cuts in this year’s budget disappointed some, but I think most people accept Prime Minister John Key’s view hat there are other priorities this year.

National had looked at around $1 billion for tax cuts in the Budget the year but it was discarded because it would have delivered $7 or $8 a week to many households, Key told Newstalk ZB.

He said the choice they were faced with in the short term was either a billion dollars worth of tax cuts which would deliver a small amount of money to New Zealanders, or spend the money on other things such as cancer drugs.

Labour was, rightly, pilloried for its chewing gum tax cut and this government wouldn’t get any thanks for offering something similar.

However, people won’t be so patient when there’s a prospect of on-going billion dollar surpluses which give the potential for meaningful cuts and the PM gives room for hope:

“Philosophically we believe in lower taxes and smaller government, and government’s definitely getting smaller,” he said.

“The point is if we’re going to have a tax programme – we’re not ruling that out in for 2017 or campaigning on it for a fourth term. But having probably a bigger one, to be blunt.”

When asked how much was needed for meaningful tax cut, Key responded: “$3 billion I reckon.”

He wouldn’t reveal the budget surplus forecast for next year, but it was nowhere near enough for that.

He said it was realistic to forecast the tax cuts without voters considering it a ploy to be re-elected. 

Tax thresholds would probably change because of the increase in wages, he explained.

“The average income is going up and we think in a few years time the average income will be say $68,000, well the top rate cuts in at $70,000. If you don’t adjust thresholds over time you get to a point where the average income earner is paying the top personal rate of tax. That can’t be right.” . . 

Bracket creep erodes the value of wage rises and needs to be addressed.

Tax cuts  also help retirees. Superannuation is linked to after-tax wages. When taxes drop, after-tax wages increase and so do superannuation payments.

A party conference mid-way through a government’s third term could have been subdued. Confidence that the government will rise to the challenges of growth, continue to focus on the quality of its spending and results helped contribute to a buoyant mood.

It’s far better to be dealing with the challenges of growth than those of recession facing many other countries.


Quote of the day

May 16, 2016

You know that bank I used to cry all the way to? I bought it. –  Liberace who was born on this day in 1919.


May 16 in history

May 16, 2016

218 – Julia Maesa, aunt of the assassinated Caracalla, was banished to her home in Syria by the self-proclaimed emperor Macrinus and declared her 14-year old grandson Elagabalus, emperor of Rome.

1204  Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders was crowned as the first Emperor of the Latin Empire.

1527 The Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and Florencere-established itself as a republic.

1532  Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor of England.

1568 Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England.

1770 14-year old Marie Antoinette married 15-year-old Louis-Auguste.

1771  The Battle of Alamance between local militia and a group of rebels called “The Regulators.

1777 Lachlan McIntosh and Button Gwinnett shot each other during a duel.

1811  Peninsular War – The allies Spain, Portugal and Britain, defeated the French at the Battle of Albuera.

1815  The Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, officially named the town of Blackheath in the upper Blue Mountains.

1822 Greek War of Independence: The Turks captured the Greek town of Souli.

1836  Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia.

1843  The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest set out on the Oregon Trail with one thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri.

1846 – Six soldiers were killed and two more Europeans were mortally wounded when Ngāti Haua-te-rangi leader Te Mamaku attacked the British post at Boulcott’s Farm in the Hutt Valley.

1866 The U.S. Congress eliminated the half dime coin and replaces it with the five cent piece, or nickel.

1866  Charles Elmer Hires invented root beer.

1868  President Andrew Johnson was acquitted in his impeachment trial by one vote in the United States Senate.

1874  A flood on the Mill River in Massachusetts destroyed much of four villages and kills 139 people.

1877  May 16, 187  political crisis in France.

1905 Henry Fonda, American actor, was born (d. 1982).

1910 The United States Congress authorised the creation of the United States Bureau of Mines.

1914  The first ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final wass played. Brooklyn Field Club defeated Brooklyn Celtic 2-1.

1916 Ephraim Katzir, 4th President of Israel, was born (d. 2009.

1918 The Sedition Act of 1918 was passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government an imprisonable offense.

1919 Liberace, American pianist,was born (d. 1987).

1919 A naval Curtiss aircraft NC-4 commanded by Albert Cushing Read left Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon via the Azores on the first transatlantic flight.

1920   Pope Benedict XV canonised Joan of Arc.

1929 The first Academy Awards were handed out.

1943  Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ended.

1948  Chaim Weizmann was elected the first President of Israel.

1951 Christian Lacroix, French fashion designer, was born.

1951  The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights began between John F Kennedy International Airport  and Heathrow operated by El Al Israel Airlines.

1953 Pierce Brosnan, Irish actor, was born.

1960 Nikita Khrushchev demanded an apology from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower for U-2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union, ending a Big Four summit in Paris.

1960 Theodore Maiman operated the first optical laser, at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu.

1965 The Campbell Soup Company introduced SpaghettiOs under its Franco-American brand.

1966 Janet Jackson, American singer, was born.

1966 The Communist Party of China issued the ‘May 16 Notice‘, marking the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

1969 Venera program: Venera 5, a Soviet space probe, landed on Venus.

1970 Gabriela Sabatini, Argentine tennis player, was born.

1970 Danielle Spencer, Australian singer and actress, was born.

1974 Josip Broz Tito was re-elected president of Yugoslavia.

1975  India annexed Sikkim after the mountain state holds a referendum in which the popular vote was in favour of merging with India.

1975  Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

1982 The All Whites won 2-0 against Australia  on the way to the World Cup in Spain.

All Whites beat Australia on road to Spain

1983 Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement rebelled against the Sudanese government.

1986  The Seville Statement on Violence was adopted by an international meeting of scientists, convened by the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO.

1988 A report by United States’ Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that the addictive properties of nicotine were similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

1992  STS-49: Space Shuttle Endeavour lands safely after a successful maiden voyage.

2003  Casablanca terrorist attacks: 33 civilians killed and more than 100 people injured.

2004 The Day of Mourning at Bykivnia forest, just outside of Kiev to commemorate that here during 1930s and early 1940s communist Bolsheviks executed over 100,000 Ukrainian civilians.

2005 Kuwait permitted women’s suffrage in a 35-23 National Assemblyvote.

2007 – Nicolas Sarkozy took office as President of France.

2011 – STS-134 (ISS assembly flight ULF6), launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on the 25th and final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavour.

2014 – Twelve people were killed in two explosions in the Gikomba market area of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

2015 – A passenger train collided with a tractor and trailer on a level crossing at Ibbenbüren, Germany. Two people were killed and 40 were injured.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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