Protection, subsidies incentivise meat cheats

11/02/2013

The discovery of horse meat in burgers in Ireland has been followed by news that up to 100% of meat in some lasagne came from horses too.

Liberty Scott points out that protection and subsidies incentivise the meat cheats:

This is fraud, and should be treated as such.  However, secondary to this are the market distortions created by the Common Agricultural Policy.  Meat moves freely and tariff free within the EU.  However, the EU imposes strict quotas on beef from outside the EU, such as a limit of 1,200 tonnes a year from New Zealand.  It also imposes a 20% tariff within that quota.  Although it allows outside quota beef in, it must have a tariff of around 100-250%.  All NZ beef imported into the EU must meet strict labelling and traceability conditions, unlike the subsidised EU beef.

 
There are obvious pressures to source cheap beef for low priced products, but the EU Common Agricultural Policy prevents this by propping up inefficient producers in the EU.  The quotas on imports should be abolished immediately, and tariffs abolished, so that beef can be imported at low cost and high quality.  It wont stop fraud happening, but reduces the pressure to substitute real beef for cheap alternatives due to trade protectionism.
EU residents pay higher taxes to subsidise inefficient producers and consumers pay more for food, some of which is of lower quality, because of tariffs and reduced competition.

Horse meat is widely eaten in Europe so it might not be a food safety issue though it does call into question the effectiveness of strict food labelling requirements.

Whether or not it’s a food safety issue though is no excuse for fraudulently labelling horse meat as beef. However, there would be a lot less incentive for this if the EU had freer trade with countries outside its borders.


Who’d work with whom?

24/11/2011

John Key has proved he can work with some unlikely coalition partners.

He’s managed to provide a strong and stable government with Act to the right or him and the Maori and United Parties to the left.

How would you rate Phil Goff’s chances of keeping together the stack of colation partners he’d have to appease?

They’re not even in negotiation yet and already the Maori Party is unenthusiastic about one of the other parties  which would be in the stack. Deborah Coddington left this comment:

What newsrooms should really be asking the Greens is whether they can work with the Maori Party. I interviewed Tariana Turia today and asked her if she can work with the Greens and her response was astounding. I asked her if she trusted the Greens to return the conservation estate to tangata whenua and her response was an unequivocal, “I don’t believe they would”.

I asked her about the Greens’ policy to put a price on water for irrigation, and the tangata whenua’s very strong relationship with waters and rivers, and what she thought about who that money should be going to, under principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Her reply: “I’ve always been a bit suspicious of him [Russel Norman]…I don’t think they’re as honest as they make out to be.”

Someone, she said, should be putting these questions to the Greens before Saturday.

Someone should, but will they? See why do the Greens get such an easy ride? Part One for the answer.


In memory of Steve Jobs

08/10/2011

You dont’ have to be an Apple user to appreciate the contribution Steve Jobs made to the company, communication, technology and business.

You will find better tributes than I could write in Celebrating Crazy  by  Roarprawn, Steve Jobs 1955-2011  by  Not PC and Steve Jobs – he lived by Liberty Scott.

I’ll stick to borrowing someone else’s pictures:


9/11 ten years on

11/09/2011

It was the morning of September 12th here 10 years ago, but still September 11th in the United States,  when we woke to the sight and sound of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre.

As the day wore on we learned a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and another crashed in  Pennsylvania.

Ten years on we remember the people who died, the people who survived with horrific injuries and the people who acted with heroism to help others.

The best way to honour them is to celebrate freedom and live freely. These are things we usually take for granted and they are concepts the people who led and took part in the attacks and their ilk didn’t and don’t understand.

Keeping Stock posts a documentary on the attacks and the aftermath.

Liberty Scott says 9/11 was an attack on modernity.

Whaleoil reminds us that while most people were running out, people from the emergency services were running in.


Might is wrong in London

09/08/2011

Attacks from outside or from nature are bad enough but the riots which are spreading across London are from within.

The Guardian reports:

As disturbances entered a third day, the scale of civil disobedience reached unprecedented levels, with incidents in all corners of the capital.

The violence, which began in Tottenham, north London on Saturday spread south and east to Brixton, Streatham, Walthamstow, Edmonton, Enfield, Oxford Circus and Islington on Sunday.

By last night further outbreaks of disorder involving hundreds of hooded yobs had taken place in Hackney, Clapton, East Ham, Lewisham and Clapham Junction. Property and shops were set on fire in Peckham and Croydon . . .

. . . Riot officers, whose numbers had been quadrupled in anticipation of widespread violence, seemed largely powerless to intervene as they were outnumbered.

Other areas including Barking, Brent Cross, Palmers Green, Kilburn and Shepherds Bush were expecting violence as gangs of youths congregated. Shops across the capital closed early amid fears that the riots would spread further. Teams of riot officers were on standby in every borough in London.

West Midlands Police confirmed that extra officers were on patrol after the force became aware of a message circulated on social networking sites suggesting that Birmingham city centre would be targeted.

This isn’t politically motivated action against an evil regime. It’s mindless violence aimed at innocent property owners and people.

The BBC reports:

Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock said: “This is not groups of people acting on behalf of communities or with any consent.

“This is individuals who are actually attacking communities, businesses, properties and houses and actually causing a huge amount of upset and criminality.”

The culprits are mostly young and Liberty Scott says they just want some free stuff:

. . . It is not because of the protest of the shooting of Mark Duggan, in a case that is now under investigation.   One can’t remotely claim that those rioting in Tottenham, Hackney, Wood Green, Enfield and now Lewisham are some response to the Police.  Petrol bombing shops, flats and buses, is not about some sort of protest.  There was a peaceful protest on Saturday about it, and Duggan’s family long called for an end to any violence . . .

These are looters, they are amoral, impulsive young men and women who have no conception of the rights of others, who have no respect for the property of others, who couldn’t care less if people lose their livelihoods, businesses or homes.   They are the output of a culture of entitlement that says if you want something you should have it, you don’t need to work or save for it, for either the state will pay for it, or someone will give it to you – or you just take it when you can.  A culture of hedonistic whim worshipping, that says if it feels good it’s ok and it doesn’t matter who or what you destroy or harm in the process – might is right.
 
Might in this case is wrong.
 
It is also a sign of people disconnected from society and the rules, standards and self-discipline required to keep it functioning and to keep people and property safe.

Can’t keep borrowing and hoping

21/07/2011

Quote of the week from Liberty Scott:

You cannot keep borrowing to pay for consumption now in the hope you can borrow more in the future.

The post, which I recommend reading in full,  is about the European Union. The line quoted has universal application for individuals, businesses and nations.

It highlights one of the flaws of Labour’s tax policy. It’s not balanced by any policy to reduce spending and will require an enormous amount of extra borrowing in the short to medium term.

Borrowing for infrastructure and other investment which will help economic growth isn’t necessarily bad. Borrowing to pay for consumption was part of what Labour did wrong in its last term and they don’t appear to have learned from that mistake.


Did you see the one about . . .

30/01/2011

My cricket World Cup squad – Imperator Fish mixes politics and sport.

Just one day – Liberty Scott reminds us what we must remember on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Macdoctor compares state of the nation addresses  –  and shows a picture really is worth 1,000 words. He also does the numbers on asset sales in Sell Down.

Crime scene cooking and bags of milk – Around the World on cultural differences of the culinary kind.

Don’t believe the lies – Kiwiblog figures what’s wrong with what Labour’s saying. He also gives a plug for WordCamp NZ.

Let us not march – Dim Post has word clouds from this week’s state of the nation speeches.

Two year Review – Pablo at Kiwipolitico looks back on two years of blogging.

Phil Goff – the beehive – Whaleoil shows how one silly idea could lead to another.


Did you see the one about . . .

27/12/2010

Happy Solstice Day Larvartus Prodeo celebrates the solstice with photos. While there check out All I want for Christmas – a list of rights and freedoms which are priorities for modern living.

The story I can’t really tell – Liberty Scott reminds us not everyone is free.

Trade and Farming – Anti Dismal on which came first.

How economics saved Christmas – Roger Kerr with a different version of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Policy implications of happiness – Offsetting Behaviour on  exactly what the title says.


Did you see the one about . .

12/12/2010

I am a receptionist –  The Bullet on life on the other side of the hotel check-in counter.

Bad parenting not lack of money is harming poor kids – Liberty Scott shows poverty is no excuse for children’s failure.

Avoiding the quarter life crisis: parents guide your children well – Peter Kerr on the importance of choosing school subjects carefully.

You swearing at me? Quote Unquote talks dirty.

The Ninth Floor –  Stoatspring on adjusting to ordinary life after work in the PM’s office.

3.6% of Kiwis have paid a bribe in the last year – Stephen Franks takes a serious look at Transparency International’s GLobal Corruption Barometer Survey.

Corrupt? Hell yeah!  – Imperator fish takes a lighter look at the same survey.

The Year in review According to Google – Motella looks back with the help of Google & YouTube.

Wahine Toa – Roarprawn celebrates four Maori women in Cabinet.


Did you see the one about . . .

04/07/2010

New Zealand and Uruguay as sporting equivalents – Pablo at Kiwipolitico compares one small country where sport and agriculture are important with another.

Don’t admit them to hospital then – Macdoctor on the smoking ban for prisoners.

Star the second – In A Strange Land has a star chart to help her stay dry for July.

What makes us happy? Rivetting Kate Taylor on what really matters.

Sparks in the universe – Stellar Cafe on the bright ideas that get away from you.

What determines productivity? – Anti-Dismal on attemts toa nswer the big question.

Biology isn’t destiny but it affects your saving throws – Offsetting Behaviour on nature vs nurutre.

Trio – Quote Unquote on tree planting and muttering and purring.

Mines railways or jobs – Liberty Scott on unintended consequences.

Happy Birthday to us – Gooner at No Minister on the blog’s third birthday.

TraeMe hints – Oswald Bastable knows something but he’s not telling much.

Farewell to the Independent – Liberation bids the paper goodbye with a parody of Chirs Trotter’s writing.

Apropos of which is The Independent 1992 – 2010 at Bowalley Road. He also discusses the redefinition of protest in Russel’s tussle.


Did you see the one about

21/11/2009

Thought for the day – Quote Unquote has a new angle on paper, scissors, rock. Whilte you’re there you might enjoy NZ farmer letter of the year – an answer to the problem of travel perks.

Worlds apart – Progressive Turmoil on the differences in mobile phone use in different countries.

Chicken Fever hits parliament – Audrey Young spots a chook and comes up with some answers to the question of why the chicken crossed the road.

Spam journalism # 63 and Much ado about nothing – Macdoctor points out the difference between smaller increases and cuts.

Goff loses chess game to analogue computer – gonzo Freakpower gets satirical.

Work/life balance – it’s not about the pets – The Hand Mirror finds the paid/ unpaid work balance leaves little time for life.

Saving the minghty kauri Over the Fence on the fund to fight kauri die back.

Supply and demand or what? – Anti Dismal on what matters.

One thing to keep in mind – The Visible Hand on the real issues.

What’s in the water – Alison Campbell at Sciblogs on the dangers of water births.

Trickle down carbon sequestration – Daniel Collins at Sciblogs shows tree planting in the wrong place may compromise water supply.

Greens revealed as biggest spender in Mt Albert by-election – Liberation shows money doesn’t buy votes.

Berlin wall series:  Poland,  Czechoslovakia and Bulgeria , – by Liberty Scott.

Big Boys toys – Frenemy is truck spotting.


Did you see the one about . . .

04/11/2009

Probing the depths of snow – Daniel Collins at Sicblogs has some stunning photos from Temple Basin.

Didn’t we learn from 1989 – Liberty Scott

When inanimate objects attack – Opinionated Mummy profiles some perfectly rages.

Motel greenwash – Motella doesn’t want a sermon when he stays away.

Mary Wollstonecraft wept – In A Strange Land adds to my contention that the fashion industry is inherently misogynist.

One of these is not the same – Macdoctor sees signs of sense from a health boss.

The Church of Jones – Roarprawn spots another cult.

October public polls – Kiwiblog paints a pretty picture for those of us who like blue.

Another pet lamb bites the dust – RivettingKateTaylor on life and death and pet shows.

And I like cows because . . . ummm  Kismet Farm has one of those days.

A heavyweight conundrum – Frendmy compares Australia’s roads with ours.


Shoot the lot

29/10/2009

Dear Lord Stern,

Re your suggestion that the whole world should go vegetarian to save the planet.

Why don’t you just shoot all the people?

It would be kinder than letting millions die of starvation which is what would happen if we took your idea seriously.

Yours sincerely

Homepaddock

P.S.

If you don’t like my suggestion you may be interested in:

Inquiring Mind where Adam Smith posts on how Coppenhagen could threaten NZ’s very future.

Farmgirllive who says it’s time to get serious about countering this silliness.

Liberty Scott who says Lord Stern loses the plot some more.

and Fairfacts Media who urges Go on have that extra steak.


What if we didn’t have ACC?

13/10/2009

We keep being told ACC is the world’s best no-fault accident insurance scheme.

If a scheme which has a $12.8 billion gap between its net assets and claim liabilities is the best, what would the worst be like?

What would happen if we didn’t have ACC?

People who had minor accidents would look after themselves and most of those who needed treatment would get it through the public health system. If they had on-going problems they might end up on a benefit.

What they wouldn’t get, unless they had their own accident insurance, would be earnings related compensation.

How many would try to sue? I don’t know the answer to that. But if you take away accidents in which the victim is at fault because of carelessness or stupidity and others for which no-one else could be blamed I doubt if it would be a very big number.

Tomorrow the government will announce changes to the scheme to address the gap between income and outgoings. It will leave us paying more for less.

If a compulsory accident insurance scheme is so good, why has no-one suggested we have compulsory health insurance too? If the answer to that is that compulsory health insurance wouldn’t be a good idea, we need to look at ACC and ask if we’d be better off without compulsory accident insurance too.

Those who wanted accident and earnings related insurance could pay for their own. The rest would take the risk of having to rely on public health and benefit systems.

And if Macdoctor is right, we’d have fewer accidents because people might start taking a bit more care.

UPDATE: Liberty Scott has a prescription for improvements.


Fran O’Sullivan on blogging on YouTube

02/10/2009

Fran O’Sullivan spoke on the accidental empire of political blogging at a breakfast organised by Rural Women NZ earlier this week.

Part of that address is now on YouTube:

Roarprawn posted on the breakfast, so did Big News and Kiwiblog  who also discussed Fran’s suggestion that NZ On Air should become NZ On Media. That in turn led to a post from Bill Ralston.

UPDATE:

Not PC  reckons this is an example of life imitating satire; and  Liberty Scott thinks NZ On Air should be abolished


Revenge a dish best served breaded

17/09/2009

Popular widsom suggests revenge is a dish best served cold, but English chef Keith Floyd served his breaded.

A Telegraph obituary recounts:

On one occasion he gleefully recalled serving a serially ungrateful diner a carefully cooked beer mat disguised as a breaded escalope of veal. The man ate it without comment but criticised the topping on his crème brûlée.

I’ve had the odd steak which tasted like leather and some takeaways seem to have the consistency and nutritional value of the cardboard they’re served in;  but I haven’t knowingly partaken of a beer mat, breaded or otherwise.

UPDATE: Liberty Scott has more on Floyd.


How poor is poor?

04/08/2009

Is poverty not having enough or not having enough in comparison with what other people have?

Is it absolute or relative?

The notion of relative poverty has driven a lot of social and economic policy.

It was one of the motivations behind Working for Families. The television advertisements clearly showed the money was directed at people who already had luxuries and turned middle and upper income families into beneficiaries.

Defining policy by comparison with what others have is a flawed concept because as Michael Blasland points out on the BBC website, poverty, by this measure,  could decline during the recession.

That doesn’t mean poor people will have more, they could well have less, but richer people will have reduced incomes too. Relative poverty is defined as less than 60% of the median income, if rich people get poorer the median income would decrease and therefore fewer people would be poor.

The column includes an interactive graph which illustrates just how flawed this definition of poverty is.

Hat Tip: Liberty Scott


Do you want a sermon with that?

18/04/2009

A travel company’s blurb on a walking tour of Italy says:

Whilst at your discretion [the company] recommends arriving/departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transport’s minimal carbon emissions.

Is that the end of the sermon, or are they going to recommend that we don’t drop rubbish, eat too much, drink immoderately or do any of the other things which might impact on the health of the planet or ourselves?

While one company’s preaching at us, another is making us pay for their penance.

I don’t have a problem with supermarkets, or other businesses, charging customers for plastic bags – there’s a cost to them, someone has to pay, it might as well be the users and if that encourages more people to use reusable bags which in turn reduces rubbish that might be a good thing.

I say might because I don’t know if the total impact of manufacturing and eventually recycling or disposing of reusable bags is actually better for the environment than that of making and recycling or disposing of plastic bags.

But that’s an argument for another time, it’s paying the penance  about which I’m quibbling now.

 Foodstuffs (New Zealand) managing director Tony Carter will only say that it will be making “substantial contributions” to environmental causes, with the majority of the money charged for bags earmarked for this use.

* I’m a little confused by this because it appears customers are being charged extra for something that will be better for the environment and then the company is using the extra money to contribute to “environmental causes”. *

If this is a good policy for bags, why not give the majority of the profits from everything to environmental causes because everything they sell will impact on the environment?

Or, if resusable bags really are so much better for the environment, why not just charge the cost price and let customers choose what to do with the money they save by not having to pay the supermarket extra so they can give it away?

If , however, charging more so supermarkets can donate more is a good thing, why stop there? Why not donate some of the profit from pet food to the SPCA and from anything which doesn’t meet the low fat, low sugar, high fibre prescription for healthy eating to the Cancer Society or Heart Foundation?

Is that any sillier than donating most of the profit from reusable plastic bags to “environemntal causes”?

I don’t have anything against businesses making profits or choosing to give some of those profits to worthy causes, but the idea of charging more than they need to then giving the excess away is a bit too much like a government taking more tax and redistributing it for my liking.

I use reusable bags, at least I do when I remember to take them, and being charged for the plastic ones will almost certainly help me remember them more often.

I don’t have a problem with the user-pays-save-the-planet policy, it’s turning it into a mission I question.

Businesses should do what’s best for them and, like all of us, minimise their negative impact on the environment while they’re doing it.

But they can keep the sermons and if they choose to pay a penance, they need to understand they’re not doing us any favours by charging us more to let them do it.

Lou Taylor at No Minister  reckons retailing is a bloodsport and:

The retailers who survive are the ones who can evolve with the times, control their overheads and are prepared to accept lower profits from time to time.

They might also be the ones that forget the sermons and don’t expect us to pay their penance.

P.S. Apropos of reusable bags, Liberty Scott shows the Greens don’t get the idea of choice.

* I was confused, this policy applies to plastic bags not resuable ones.

UPDATE: The Visible Hand in Economics posts on industry based solution vs regulation

UPDATE 2: Poneke has made a welcome return and posts on a related matter: indulgences we can do without.


Just a Minute

17/04/2009

Once upon a time before there was a television in almost every home people listened to the radio which offered several comedy gems from Britain, including Just A Minute.

The object was for one of the four panelists to speak for sixty seconds on a given topic without repetition, hesitation or deviation and withstand challenges from the other three if they repeated, hesitated or deviated.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds but the clever meanderings of the speakers and witty interjections from the challengers made for very amusing listening.

One of the regular panelists was Sir Clement Freud who died this week.

Hat Tip: Liberty Scott who posts a tribute  with links to obituaries.


Green ag policy off the planet

07/11/2008

The wee parties complain that they’re not taken seriously. One look at the Green Party agriculture and rural affairs policy shows that sometimes that’s because they don’t deserve to be.

It’s not so much policy as an example of what happens when good intentions and political ideology aren’t tempered with reality.

I’ve had a request from a blog reader to analyse it but I’ve given up because there are too many feel-good statements which want to “encourage” or “promote” with no costings and no science to back them up.

There are some things I agree with among the candy floss but they are more than cancelled out by matters which go where no political party should,  on to private property and into private businesses.

One example of this is the desire to promote the target of half our production being certified organic by 2020.

This grand statement is made without taking any account of the impact reduced yields and higher costs would have when the world is already short of food and with no reference to whether there is a demand for that much organic produce.

But that’s beside the point because whether or not farms are organic isn’t a decision for politicians, it’s a decision for individual farmers, based on what they want to do on their land, and what the market wants.

That the Greens think they can impose their ideology on individual businesses in this way shows they’re not so much for the planet as off it.

As  Liberty Scott  says:

The Greens are, once again, proving their addiction to big Nanny State, addiction to telling people what to do and not do, banning, regulating and subsidising. It is socialism, but the agricultural policy is far more sinister. It has so much that is “anti-foreign” that the National Front would have little to disapprove of.


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