Word of the day

13/07/2021

Articular – of or relating to a joint or joints;  belonging to or affecting an articulation or joint; entering into the composition of an articulation.


Sowell says

13/07/2021


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

13/07/2021


Betty Gilderdale – 1923 – 9.7.21

13/07/2021

Betty Gilderdale,  author of The Little Yellow Digger has died.

Generations of children know Betty as the author of the much-loved series of five Little Yellow Digger picture books, which she created alongside her artist husband, Alan Gilderdale. With over half a million Little Yellow Digger books in print, the original picture book stands out as one of New Zealand’s all-time bestselling children’s picture books, a wonderful legacy to leave to the world of children’s publishing. It is a legacy that is being continued by their son Peter, who has taken up the mantle of writing new books in the series. . . 


Sowing rotten seeds

13/07/2021

When critics talk about the ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s, they ignore the fact that the seeds of the problems were planted in the preceding years.

Rampant inflation, high interest rates, overvalued currency, subsidies for farmers and manufacturers, myriad tariffs on imported goods, high tax rates . .  and all the other ingredients of a failing economy left little choice but drastic action.

There is justified debate about the way the changes were carried out and the pace of them, but few would argue against the need for a radical rebalancing of the economy.

Why then, nearly 40 years after all that is the current government resowing so many of the rotten seeds that necessitated the radical uprooting of what they grew in to?

One of those rotten seeds is a highly restricted labour force about which Steven Joyce writes:

The most notable aspect of this week’s benchmark Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion is that businesses are reporting more difficulty hiring skilled people than ever before — dating back to the 1970s when the survey first began.

In short, our labour market is seizing up. Bumper sticker exhortations to “just hire more Kiwis” won’t cut it. We’re running out of people for the jobs we have, and the people who are available either have the wrong skills for the jobs that are going, or are not prepared to work in those jobs.

And that’s a problem for more than just the affected businesses. It is a problem for all of us. A highly restricted labour market creates two direct impacts: constraints on our economic capacity and increased wage inflation. . . 

On the face of it higher wages are good, but there’s a big but:

Indeed, the Government sees wage inflation as a feature of their fortress economy approach. They make no secret of the fact that they are using our barricaded borders to force up wages higher than they would otherwise be.

However, if an increase in wages is not matched by increased productivity, then that wage increase quickly feeds into inflation. The person with the extra money in their pocket finds it disappearing into increased living costs, mortgage costs and rents, leaving them no better off and often worse off.

Higher wages without improved productivity eventually makes us all poorer.

What we are looking for as a society is real wage increases as a result of using our time more cleverly, not wage inflation.

Excessive borrowing and over-spending were other rotten seeds that necessitated drastic countering measures.

As we know, the Finance Minister has opened the spending spigot and been throwing money around like confetti to prop up the place since the pandemic began. He has been ably supported by the Reserve Bank, which cut interest rates to practically zero and flooded the country with even more money to help keep us all in the manner to which we have become accustomed, and to encourage us all to borrow more. And many of us have.

That is how we feel like we are going okay despite, for example, a 25 per cent reduction in our goods and services exports to the world so far this year.

There have been warning lights for some time that both the Government and the Reserve Bank may have overshot the mark with these interventions and could be prematurely stoking inflation. Construction costs, energy costs and retail prices are all starting to increase. House prices and other asset prices have shot through the roof. Imported inflation, too, is not helping.

A massively constrained labour market can only make things worse. If firms can’t hire people to expand and soak up the consumer demand created by all this government stimulus, then we reach our economic capacity much sooner. Then all the extra money floating around feeds even more into increased prices as people chase goods and services in limited supply. . .

All that feeds into higher interest rates about which banks are already talking.

And interest rates won’t have to go up too much to really hurt, coming off the current very low base. A 1 per cent rate increase on a 6 per cent mortgage back in the day would put your interest bill up by around 16 per cent. A 1 per cent increase on a 3 per cent mortgage whacks your interest costs up by a third. 

Our peculiar policy mix of outsized stimulus and hermetically-sealed isolation threatens to drive inflation and interest rate increases harder and earlier here than anywhere else.

Nobody is arguing against border restrictions while we get the vaccines rolled out, although a hurry-up on that front would be more than in order, as countless people have said.

The problem is that our current Government is deliberately using the Covid border restrictions as a convenient excuse for their attempt to deliberately decouple our labour market from the rest of the world. That’s why we have an “immigration reset”, the cancellation of tens of thousands of short-term visas, and hundreds of empty MIQ spaces every week.

Let’s be under no illusion. Their approach, if carried through, will permanently restrict the growth rate of New Zealand companies, and therefore, our country. . . 

In spite of calling them the ‘failed policies’ even subsequent Labour governments changed few of them, for the very good reason that they worked. This government either doesn’t understand, or is ignoring, that.

One of the great benefits of our bipartisan economic approach of the past 30 years is that this small and isolated country has increased its wealth partly by attracting people to help do the work we are collectively unable or unwilling to do. In the last decade alone, we have grown our incomes at a faster rate than many developed countries, while at the same time keeping a higher percentage of us productively employed than ever before.

The Government should be working to sustain that increase in prosperity by restoring our labour markets as soon as it safely can, and in encouraging the building of the supporting infrastructure we need to continue to grow. Not shutting the door and barricading us off at the first opportunity.

That way leads to stunted growth, inflationary pressures, higher interest rates, and a poorer country that can’t afford the infrastructure and services we need.

Many in the current administration may be too young to remember the over-regulated, under performing economy before we were dragged into the real world by the reforms begun by the Lange-Douglas government. Some might be too young to recall the pain and upheaval that ensued from them. But ignorance is no excuse for resowing so many of the rotten seeds that necessitated them.


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