Word of the day

February 14, 2019

Amorevolous – loving, affectionate; kind, charitable.


Thatcher thinks

February 14, 2019


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019

You can get carried away by the commercialism, ignore it, or focus on what really matters – true love that, in Shakespeare’s words, alters not when it alteration find.

Wishing ewe  love and laughter.

And love and laughter to moo too.


What’s fair?

February 14, 2019

The government and many of the groups supporting it put a lot of emphasis on fairness, but what’s fair?

National policy is to adjust tax brackets to take account of inflation which Professor Norman Gemmell, chair in public finance at Victoria University, says is only fair:

 Tax economists have long advocated that keeping income tax thresholds constant in real terms (by adjusting them upwards as prices rise) should be the norm. But this indexation is much less important for tax on wages than it is for tax on capital gains – a crucial point in the current climate. . . 

Capital income, such as capital gains from house sales or interest payments on bank accounts, are much more vulnerable to this “indexation problem”.

Consider a simple capital gain example. If house prices rise by 5 per cent but “general” inflation is 2 per cent, the real capital gain for homeowners is 3 per cent, not 5 per cent. Now suppose that a 33 per cent tax rate payer buys a bach for $100,000 and sells it one year later for $105,000. The CGT liability on the sale is $660, due to the general inflation of 2 per cent, plus $990 for the additional house price increase (the “real” gain).

So the extra tax levied on the inflation component is a whopping two-thirds as big as the “real” tax liability (or 40 per cent of the total). In other words, with a CGT, failing to allow for general inflation means a huge additional tax bill.

What does this all mean for the TWG advice and a Government concerned with “fairness”? First, adopting National’s indexing of income tax thresholds would be a good idea, and not just for transparency reasons. It is the fair thing to do for taxpayers right across the income scale, who otherwise pay more tax simply because prices have risen.

Also, if the Government decides to go ahead with a CGT, designing out the “inflation problem” is much more important, due to the size of the tax distortion it creates. It is also important for fairness.

Otherwise, what superficially looks like the same tax rate being applied to all income actually means that the effective tax rate on capital gains (and interest income) is much higher than the same rate on income earned as wages. 

Surely that’s not fair?

Even if a CGT is inflation indexed, would it be fair?

Only if you’re a socialist who think that people who work hard, pay the costs and take the risks,  forgo personal spending, to save and invest, and pay taxes on earnings from that work, savings and investment should then be taxed again.

A CTG is a classic envy tax, aiming to bring middle and upper income people down down rather than helping the poor up.

Is it fair that the government is looking at raising more tax rather than letting people keep more of their own money?

Leighton Smith shows a better way:

 . . . the Swiss government must get approval from its voters by virtue of referendum to give themselves a pay rise or change tax rates. In 1975, the voters declined a government request for a tax increase. A prominent Swiss citizen, responding to a question of what happens next, replied “the government will have to live on what it has, like the rest of us.” But it doesn’t stop there. The Swiss have a separation of powers between taxing and spending, in the belief that temptation to overspend is omnipresent. Unfortunately, we in New Zealand could be returning to the ideology of the politics of envy. The introduction of any tax policy that enriches the accounting industry is bad policy. . . 

A government that keeps telling us its a good economic manager should not need more tax, in fact the reverse is true.

Healthy surpluses are a clear sign it’s already taking too much for us. There is no need for new taxes, and certainly not one that would benefit tax accountants and lawyers most.

Better taxes are simpler taxes. A CTG would be complicated and in spite of the aim of fairness which is behind the motivation for its introduction, would not be fair.

 

 


Quote of the day

February 14, 2019

Ethical teaching is weakened if it is tied up with dogmas that will not bear examination. – Margaret E. Knight who was born on this day in 1838.


February 14 in history

February 14, 2019

270 St. Valentine was killed.

842 – Charles the Bald and Louis the German swore the Oaths of Strasbourg in the French and German languages.

1014 – Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry of Bavaria, King of Germany and of Italy, as Holy Roman Emperor.

1076  – Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

1349 Approximately 2,000 Jews were burned to death by mobs or forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg.

1483 Babur, Moghul emperor of India, was born d. 1530).

1556 Thomas Cranmer was declared a heretic.

1743  Henry Pelham became British Prime Minister.

1778 The United States Flag was formally recognised by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded byJohn Paul Jones.

1779 James Cook was killed by Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.

1797 Battle of Cape St. Vincent – John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent and Horatio Nelson (later 1st Viscount Nelson) led the British Royal Navy to victory over a Spanish fleet in action near Gibraltar.

1803 Chief Justice John Marshall declared that any act of U.S. Congress that conflicts with the Constitution was void.

1804 Karadjordje led the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.

1819 – Christopher Latham Sholes, American journalist and politician, invented the typewriter (d. 1890).

1831 Ras Marye of Yejju marched into Tigray and defeated and killed Dejazmach Sabagadis in the Battle of Debre Abbay.

1835 The original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, iws formed in Kirtland, Ohio.

1838  Margaret E. Knight, American inventor, was born  (d. 1914).

1847 Anna Howard Shaw, American suffragette, was born  (d. 1919).

1849 James Knox Polk became the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.

1859 George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., American engineer and inventor (Ferris Wheel) , was born (d. 1896).

1869 – Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Scottish physicist and meteorologist, Nobel Prize laureate, was born(d. 1959).

1876 Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for the telephone, as didElisha Gray.

1879 The War of the Pacific broke out when Chilean armed forces occupied the Bolivian port city of Antofagasta.

1890 – Nina Hamnett, Welsh-English painter and author, was born (d. 1956).

1899 Voting machines were approved by the U.S. Congress for use in federal elections.

1900 Second Boer War: 20,000 British troops invaded the Orange Free State.

1912 – The first diesel-powered submarine was commissioned.

1915 Maori soldiers set sail for World War I.

Maori soldiers sail to war

1919 The Polish-Soviet War began.

1920 The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago.

1924 – Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, was born.

1924 The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was founded.

1929  St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone‘s gang, were murdered in Chicago.

1935 – David Wilson, Baron Wilson of Tillyorn, Scottish academic and diplomat, 27th Governor of Hong Kong, was born.

1942 Battle of Pasir Panjang contributed to the fall of Singapore.

1942 – Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, was born.

1943  Tunisia Campaign – General Hans-Jurgen von Arnim’s Fifth Panzer Army launches a concerted attack against Allied positions in Tunisia.

1944 – Carl Bernstein, American journalist, was born.

1944 Anti-Japanese revolt on Java.

1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia aboard the USS Quincy, officially starting the U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relationship.

1945  Mostar was liberated by Yugoslav partisans.

1946 The Bank of England was nationalised.

1946  ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, was unveiled.

1949 The Knesset (Israeli parliament) convened for the first time.

1949 – The Asbestos Strike began in Canada, marking the beginning of theQuiet Revolution in Quebec.

1961 Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, was first synthesized at the University of California.

1966 Australian currency was decimalised.

1967 – Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Greek-English businessman, founded easyJet, was born.

1979 Muslims kidnapped the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs.

1981 Stardust Disaster: A fire in a Dublin nightclub killed 48 people

1983  United American Bank of Knoxville, Tennessee collapsed.

1989  Union Carbide agreed to pay $470 million to the Indian government for damages it caused in the 1984 Bhopal Disaster.

1989 Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill the author of The Satanic VersesSalman Rushdie.

1989 – The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System were placed into orbit.

1990 92 people were killed aboard Indian Airlines Flight 605 at Bangalore.

1996 China launched a Long March 3 rocket, carrying the Intelsat 708satellite which flew off course 3 seconds after liftoff and crashed into a rural village.

1998 – New Zealand’s new national museum, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, officially opened on Wellington’s waterfront.

Te Papa museum opens

2000 The spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker entered orbit around asteroid 433 Eros, the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid.

2002 – Tullaghmurray Lass sank off the coast of Kilkeel, County Down killing three members of the same family on board.

2004 – In a suburb of MoscowRussia, the roof of the Transvaal water park collapses, killing more than 25 people, and wounding more than 100 others.

2005 – Seven people were killed and 151 wounded in a series of bombings by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants that hit the Philippines’ Makati financial district in Metro Manila, Davao City, and General Santos City.

2008 – Northern Illinois University shooting: a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall of the DeKalb County, Illinois university resulting in 6 fatalities (including gunman) and 18 injuries.

2011 – As a part of Arab Spring, the Bahraini uprising, a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil resistance, began with a ‘Day of Rage’.

2013 – Steam for Linux was released, beginning the expansion of Valve’s game service onto the free and open-source platform.

2015 – Two people were killed in shootings at a free-speech seminar and at a synagogue service in Copenhagen.

2018  – Jacob Zuma resigned as President of South Africa.

2018 – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in the Miami metropolitan area, one of the deadliest school massacres with 17 fatalities and 15 injuries.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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