365 days of gratitude

December 24, 2018

This evening locals and their families who have returned home for Christmas gathered for a carol service.

Tonight I’m grateful for music, reflection and reunions.


Word of the day

December 24, 2018

Yulestarn – a noticeably bright star in the sky on Christmas night.


Sowell says

December 24, 2018


Wishing you . . .

December 24, 2018

Wishing you the hope, joy, peace and love of Christmas and may 2019 treat you and yours kindly.


Socialism kills more than war

December 24, 2018

Bad economic policies kill more children than war:

Recent reports that infants now die at a higher rate in Venezuela than in war-torn Syria were, sadly, unsurprising—the results of socialist economics are predictable. Venezuela’s infant mortality rate has actually been above Syria’s since 2008.

But it’s not all bad news.

The big picture, fortunately, is happier. The global infant mortality rate has plummeted. Even Syria and Venezuela, despite the impact of war and failed policies, saw improvements up to as recently as last year. From 1960 to 2015, Syria’s infant mortality rate fell by 91% and Venezuela’s by 78%. This year (not reflected in the graph above or below), Syria’s rate rose from 11.1 per 1,000 live births to 15.4, while Venezuela’s shot up from 12.9 to 18.6. Meanwhile, infant mortality rates have continued to fall practically everywhere else, and have declined even faster in countries that enjoy more freedom and stability. Consider Chile.

Chile’s infant mortality rate in 1960 was actually above that of both Venezuela and Syria. It managed to outperform Syria by the mid-1960s, but was still woefully behind its richer northern cousin, Venezuela.  In the early 1970s, Chile’s progress slowed to a crawl as its elite flirted with socialist policies. Once its government abandoned socialism and began economic reforms in the mid-1970s, the pace of progress sped up again, and soon Chile’s infants were safer than Venezuela’s. Today, Chile’s infant mortality rate is similar to that of the United States.

There is a lesson to be learned from these data points: economic policy matters. While Venezuela’s socialism has managed to kill more infants than a full-blown war in Syria, Chile’s incredible success story shows us that by implementing the right policies, humanity can make rapid progress and better protect the youngest, most vulnerable members of society. Today it is hard to believe that infants in Chile were once more likely to die within a year than their contemporaries in Venezuela and Syria. . . 

New Zealand is in no danger of following Venezuela’s downwards trajectory to complete disaster, but it is concerning that economic growth has slowed:

The economy appears to be slowing with today’s GDP figures showing economic growth in the past three months is the lowest in five years, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“Economic growth in the past three months of 0.3 per cent doesn’t even compensate for population growth. Economic growth per person, which reflects population growth, actually declined in dollar terms over the past three months.

“Despite all the Government’s talk of wellbeing, that means New Zealanders are becoming worse off.

“While quarterly numbers can be volatile and need to be read with caution, these latest figures do suggest a general slowdown from the economy the Government inherited from National.

“These results will cause embarrassment to the Minister of Finance after he was too quick to boast about the previous quarter’s result, which now appears to be an outlier.

“Despite the economy slowing, the Labour-led Government is projected to take an extra $17.7 billion in tax from New Zealand families over the next four years than was projected under National. That amounts to $10,000 less in the back pockets of the average household.

The announcement of another increase to the minimum wage without a change to tax thresholds will mean even more tax taken.

Any families on low wages will be little if any better off because any gain in their pay will be offset by abatements to Working for Families top-ups. It is better to earn more and be less dependent on government support but that will be cold comfort to people who are struggling.

“National believes New Zealanders deserve to keep more of what they earn. Unlike the Labour-led Government, we know that as a country we can’t tax our way to prosperity.

“New Zealand needs sensible and consistent economic policies that promote growth and reward hard work, as well as wise spending of taxpayer money.” 

Venezuela is an extreme case but the lesson is clear – tax and spend economic policies are no substitute for ones which promote economic growth and lessen the burden of the state.

Good economic policy is the necessary foundation for sustainable social progress.


Quote of the day

December 24, 2018

The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next. –  Matthew Arnold who was born on this day in 1822.


December 24 in history

December 24, 2018

1754 George Crabbe, British poet and naturalist, was born  (d. 1832).

1777  Kiritimati, (Christmas Island) was discovered by James Cook.

1814  The Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the War of 1812.

1822 Matthew Arnold, British poet, was born (d. 1888).

1865  Several U.S. Civil War Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan.

1880  Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, children’s book writer and creator of Raggedy Ann was born (d. 1938).

1893  Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (Chattanooga Choo Choo – I Only Have Eyes for You), was born (d. 1981).

1905 Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor, was born (d. 1976).

1906  Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

1914  World War I: The “Christmas truce” began.1922 Ava Gardner, American actress, was born (d. 1990).1923 George Patton IV, American general, was born (d. 2004).

1924  Albania became a republic.

1927  Mary Higgins Clark, American author, was born.

1941  World War II: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese Imperial Army.

1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander.

1946  France’s Fourth Republic was founded.

1948 Frank Oliver, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1951 Libya became independent from Italy. Idris I was proclaimed King.

1953 Tangiwai railway disaster – The worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River, just west of Tangiwai in the central North Island. The accident happened after a railway bridge was destroyed by a lahar.

Tangiwai railway disaster

1955  NORAD Tracked Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

1957 Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.

1961 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was born.

1968 The crew of Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.

1969– Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, was born.

1974  Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.

1979 – The first European Ariane rocket was launched.

1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria killed 50-100 people.

2000 – The Texas 7 held up a sports store in Irving, Texas,  Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered during the robbery.

2003 – Spanish police thwarted an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s Chamartín Station.

2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declared a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

2008 – Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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