Quotes of the month

January 31, 2020

Work without hope is as bad as hope without work. We need both the shovel and the inspiration. –Nikki Verbeet

At heart, both the excessive respect and disrespect for Nature are the products of sentimentality, a sentimentality that leads to a failure to make proper distinctions. Both the excessively respectful and the disrespectful suppose that Nature has intentions toward us, good or evil as the case may be. Excessive respect supposes that Nature is so benevolent that nothing in it can harm Man, provided only that he is worshipful toward it; disrespect supposes that Man knows best and can perfect not only himself but the universe. Theodore Dalrymple

But, on the Left, casting our adversaries as stupid bigots strikes me as obviously misguided. Likewise, our tendency to lord it over others with a hyper-abundance of certainty in our superior virtue is obnoxious; our refusal to contemplate the possibility of good faith among those with whom we disagree, alienating. Liberal condescension, paired with an unforgiving approach to ideological purity, risks sending perfectly well-meaning people into the arms of our adversaries or to retreat from politics altogether. – Phil Quinn

So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and fuck off.Ricky Gervais

It’s easy to understand how expensive gift bags and millions of dollars would make anyone feel qualified to lecture other people on public policy, private morality, global warming, or the complex geopolitical issues in the Middle East. – Bridget Phetasy

We are cautious around the bereaved, as though pain is contagious, as though keeping a distance will make the loss smaller. Yet again, I find the opposite to be true – the nearness of things, the nearness of others, is really all that matters for now. We move from numbness to the littleness of the everyday, knowing that this is life going on, that no grand gestures are needed, that compassion is in a nod, a wave, a smile, all the gentle tokens. I count my blessings. Suzanne Moore

Freedom of opinion is a very good thing, but so is freedom from opinion—since a very high proportion of opinions, especially among publicly funded academic intellectuals, do not even rise to the value of drunken barroom talk. Oh for a world free from opinion!—or at least freer from opinion.

Alas, the social media have provided an echo chamber for cranks, monomaniacs, extremists, psychotics, enthusiasts of every stripe, the unheard whose prior muteness was their greatest virtue and highest quality, the echo chamber being the whole world. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are a range of ways that have always been used to hold people to account. We’ve now added these extra dimension where some people actually want the total destruction of that person.Russell Blackford

Nevertheless there’s been no wars between nations this century. The last was in the 1990s between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a disputed territory. Knowing each country I’d heavily back the Dannevirke rugby club against both their armies. – Sir Bob Jones

In other words: all knowledge has a hierarchy. Inversion of this hierarchy turns children who were ready to begin learning “into passive parrots able to recite – and unable to think.” Teaching conclusions about complex processes without the platform of knowledge to understand or assess how those conclusions were derived violates that hierarchy, rendering students able to repeat the propaganda those conclusions, but not able to understand how they were arrived at. They become simply Pavlovian puppets. Peter Cresswell 

There is an insidious crusade afoot aiming at controlling what the public sees, hears, thinks and believes. This project, which seeks hegemony in various Western cultures, is no less pervasive and thoroughgoing than previous attempts at thought control by totalitarian and theocratic regimes.

But since this campaign to control the narrative has no name, and does not promote an explicit ideology, its significance tends to be underestimated, even by those who oppose the many attempts to police language and thought. – Frank Furedi

The paradox is that while an increasing number of people reject the idea of the Christian God in favour of a range of secular belief systems, Christian values still underpin Western concepts of justice, freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It’s no coincidence that the world’s freest, fairest and most prosperous countries all have Christian roots.

Granted, Christian teaching has been twisted and corrupted for reasons that have little to do with God and a lot to do with human vanity, greed and the desire to exercise power and control. But although no longer a Christian myself, I don’t think we should discount the possibility that our God-fearing forebears recognised transcendental truths that we, the best-educated generations in human history, are too myopic or conceited to see. – Karl du Fresne

For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity. – Louis Houlbrooke

If climate change alarmism is the new religion, then scepticism – or denialism, to use the more damning term favoured by climate-change activists – is the new heresy.

There’s a disturbing whiff of totalitarianism in the way this secular religion permits no dissent. If you believe that it’s dangerous in a democracy to allow one view to hold complete and unchallenged sway, denialism starts to look like an honourable stance, purely on principle.Karl du Fresne

Environmental problems are certainly real, but alarmists do a disservice to the cause of tackling those challenges when they use cataclysmic language to describe the near future. . . . Environmental challenges should be taken seriously. And just as with so many other problems humanity has faced, environmental problems should be solvable given the right technology and spreading prosperity. The world will still exist a dozen years from now. – Chelsea Follett

Americans wrongly think the rest of the world is hurting us with unfair trade practices, but New Zealand really is hurt badly by the unfair trade practices of others (which protect farmers in rich countries.) – Scott Sumner

Sir, Simon Pegg states that he and other well-paid people should pay more tax (Thunderer, Jan 23). Fine and dandy, but he should do it first. Whether in the US or the UK, it is possible to pay more than the legal minimum in tax. Both countries will send thank-you letters. When Pegg shows us his, perhaps we’ll listen to his calls. Until then, I’m not bothering. –Tim Worstall

Who cares about being accurate. The point of being a journalist is to tell people what to do. But after twenty years of propaganda the punters are still not getting the message, so Faye Flam (her real name) thinks it’s time to stop using “climate change” and switch back to “global warming”. Apparently a five year old Yale Study suggests that it’s more scary, and Flam has discovered it just in time to wring a bit more propaganda value out of the Australian fires. “Lucky”. eh? –  Jo Nova (Hat Tip Not PC)

To make housing affordable, we need to liberalise our planning regime, incentivise councils for housing development and, if privately, fund new infrastructure. If we don’t implement these reforms, Demographia’s future reports will continue to document our housing crisis. – Oliver Hartwich

I knew what I wanted and I knew that you’ve got to do a bit of work to get there. – Paul Whakatutu 

So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands. – Tracy Watkins

Rapidly expanding welfare is Labour’s record. It flies in the face of all of the posturing on well-being. Hard metrics don’t lie. Entrenching dependence and sapping the will to work by surrendering on sanctions and failing to enforce work-test obligations is simply indefensible. Mike Yardley

There is something speech restrictions can do; in fact, it’s the only thing they can do. They can help you win political arguments by limiting the parameters of discussion. That’s assuming the argument is able to take place at all.

Speech restrictions aren’t a solution to racism. What they are is an expression of reactionary tribal politics, and a solution to dissenting thought.  – Dane Giraud

Capitalism is the best system for creating wealth we’ve been able to find in the last 300 to 400 years, and we should want to create wealth. But it has no regard for how that wealth is created, so for instance it can be created by children going up chimneys and working in factories. Nor does it care how wealth is distributed. So we’ve always known that there needs to be other systems that deal with those two issues. – David Kirk


Don’t waste it

January 24, 2020

The Taxpayers’ Union has submitted a design proposal for a 3.5-metre artwork in the Beehive entrance.

 

The Union will save taxpayers money by refusing the $15,000 commission fee should its submission be chosen.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Perfectly placed to greet MPs and Ministers arriving for work, Don’t Waste It serves as a warning to would-be money-wasters in the heart of government.”

“For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity.”

“Taxpayers understand the value of money, because they work for it. But too often, politicians take money from us only to fritter it away on pet projects, political fads, and minor extravagances. The taxpaying public can never be too firm in its opposition to government waste. It is in this spirit that we submit our proposal.”

Former MP Eric Roy used to have a shearing hand piece in his office in parliament to remind him where he came from.

It would be good for everyone who works in parliament – MPs and staff – and everyone who visits, especially those who come to lobby for funding to have this reminder that no money should be wasted.

 


Waste tax starting at wrong end

November 29, 2019

Yet another proposed tax from the government that said no new taxes:

Eugenie Sage’s proposed six-fold increase in the levy rate for landfills will not only cost households more but lead to more illegal dumping, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

The plan was a key policy in the Government’s Waste Discussion Document released today.

“The proposal will have perverse outcomes on both the environment and New Zealanders’ back pockets,” Mr Simpson says.

“Fly tipping is already a huge problem in New Zealand, and knee jerk price hikes like this will only make it worse.

“Sadly people will realise it’s cheaper and easier to dump their rubbish over a bank or into the bush rather than paying the exorbitant fee to use their local tip.

Most mornings I walk along roads bordering our farm and each time I come across odd bits of rubbish – usually bottles and food wrapping – that has been thrown from car windows. Fortunately there are no banks or bush on my usual route to encourage fly-tipping but every now and then I venture further afield and it’s not unusual to find rubbish that ought to have been taken to a tip.

“People in some parts of the country are already paying close to $200 per tonne at their landfill. This will only drive the price even higher.

“Meanwhile expanding the number of landfills to which the levy applies is a belated follow-through on plans National had already announced in Government.

“Eugenie Sage should be investigating practical ways of addressing our waste problem like waste to energy systems used in other countries. Instead she seems happy to indulge her ideological preferences and hit the tax button.”

The Taxpayers’ Union points out this tax will hit the poor hardest:

. . .Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Like any levy, this will be a regressive tax hike, with a disproportionate impact on the budgets of large households in the country’s poorest suburbs. If it brings in the forecast $220 million, that’s a tax hike of $120 per Kiwi household, per year.”
 
“This is yet another painful tax hike that betrays the Government’s claims of compassion for the poor.”
 
“Meanwhile, the beneficiaries of this proposal will be the businesses taking handouts from the poorly managed Waste Minimisation Fund, and the local councils that get a revenue boost. No wonder they’re supporting it.”
 
Earlier this year the Tax Working Group pointed out that increasing the rubbish tax will cause a spike in illegal dumping. Even the Green Party should agree that it’s better for old mattresses to end up in the tip than dumped on the road or riverside.”

Waste to energy systems would be a much better idea than another tax, especially as this one is starting at the wrong end of the problem – hitting the people who have to get rid of rubbish rather than those who create waste in the first place.

Take bananas as a small example – they grown in bunches with their own protective covering. Why do supermarkets find it necessary to put them in plastic bags? It’s the businesses that put them in bags who cause the problem, not the people who buy the fruit and are left with the unwanted bags.


Red tape rules

October 18, 2019

Louis Houlbrooke tweets:

 

Anyone seeking causes for New Zealand’s poor productivity, housing shortage and high cost of building should start here.


Don’t doom us to darker days

October 3, 2019

 Take Back The Clocks wants daylight saving to be abolished:

. . .Louis Houlbrooke, chief executive and founder of Take Back The Clocks, said the twice yearly changes disrupted people’s sleep, were unnatural, and made international business much more complicated.

“They cause disruption and inconvenience to people’s lives in a trivial sense but also in more serious ways with tired drivers and the impact on dairy cows.” . . 

Most people who favour shifting clocks forward want more light for recreation in the evening. They don’t take into account that that means less light in the morning for people who work, making it harder to do early morning tasks like milking and mustering.

He suggested moving New Zealand to permanent “summer hours” – the change in late September that leads to sunnier evenings and darker mornings.

If there is any change to daylight saving it should be shorter not longer.

When it started clocks went forward in late October and back in early March. Someone decided if some daylight saving was good, more would be better without taking into account we don’t get the same amount of daylight all year.

We were waking up to light at 6am last week, this week it’s nearly 7am and before the clocks go back in autumn the sun doesn’t rise here until about 7:50. It’s even worse further south.

Waiting a few weeks in spring before clocks went forward and putting them back in early to mid March would make a big difference to the amount of light in the morning.

If daylight saving was permanent, mid-winter sunrise wouldn’t be until 9:30am in Invercargill.

Children would be walking and biking to school in the dark, roads would be icier until later and there would be no benefit from a bit more light in the evening when it’s so cold.

Daylight saving is too long now, please don’t doom us to year-long darker dawns.


Tax Freedom Day at last

June 1, 2019

We’re nearly half way through the year and have only just got to Tax Freedom Day:

A media release from the Taxpayers’ Union says:

From today until the end of the year you are finally working for yourself, and not the taxman, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
 
‘Tax Freedom Day’ marks the day on which New Zealanders have collectively worked enough to pay off the cost of government for the year.
 
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “For the average New Zealander, getting to work on Monday represents the first day they’re working for themselves.”
 
“This year’s total government expenses have been forecast to suck up 41.5 percent of the economy. That means, if a taxpayer wanted pay off their share of government expenses as soon as possible this year, they would have to work sacrifice all their wages from January the 1st, until today, June 1st.
 
“Today is worth celebrating, but it’s a shame we had to wait so long to pay off the politicians’ expense card. Unfortunately, government spending increasing faster than economic growth means the continuation of the trend of a later Tax Freedom Day.”
 
“Some other groups chose to observe Tax Freedom Day earlier this year. But our chosen date – based on OECD figures – takes into account local government and spending paid for with debt, meaning it reflects the full burden of government on taxpayers.”

And on the eve of Tax Freedom Day, the government pushed through an increase to fuel taxes under urgency:

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the passage of legislation hiking the price of petrol at the pump to see that more than 50 percent of the price paid will soon be tax. Union spokesperson, Jordan Williams says:

“Clearly ‘wellbeing’ is just marketing fluff.  Petrol taxes are highly regressive – they hit the poor, those in regional New Zealand, and those who live on outer suburbs the hardest. It’s one of the cruelest forms of tax.”

“Rushing these new petrol taxes through Parliament under urgency is disgraceful. They are a total breach of the Prime Minister’s ‘no new tax’ election promise.  And Labour know it.”

“Pain at the pump underscores the fact that big-ticket Budget announcements come at a real cost, regardless of the fuzzy wellbeing language the politicians use to promote them.”

Petrol was more than $2.45 a litre when we passed through Omarama earlier this week. Tax is already too big a contributor to that.

Taking more money from everyone and adding to the cost of everything will not contribute to wellbeing.


If can’t count the concrete . . .

April 11, 2019

Statistics NZ has finally come out with the number of partial responses to the census:

Stats NZ’s confirmation that the problems with Census 2018 is not just with the record low response rate, but a doubling in the partial response rate compounds the problems for the State Sector, says National’s State Services Spokesperson Nick Smith.

“We now know over 700,000 people or one in seven New Zealanders did not complete Census 2018. This leaves a huge data hole that will create problems for years in allocating tens of billions of dollars in funding for central state services like health and education, as well as affecting electorate numbers and boundaries for Election 2020.

“Stats NZ needs to accept responsibility for the 2018 Census shambles. It cannot blame the funding when it was 36 per cent greater than Census 2013 and when this budget was underspent. It cannot blame the digital strategy when Australia successfully delivered its 2016 Census with a 95 per cent response rate using a similar strategy.

“Stats NZ botched the delivery of Census 2018 by excessively relying on online responses and providing insufficient neighbourhood backup for others. It compounded the problem by dismissing concerns expressed by Census field offices, commentators and the National opposition when the Census could have been retrieved. . . 

The census shambles hasn’t stopped the department coming out with more things to measure:

Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand is being developed by Stats NZ as a source of measures for New Zealand’s wellbeing. The set of indicators will go beyond economic measures, such as gross domestic product (GDP), to include wellbeing and sustainable development.

The wellbeing indicators will build on international best practice, and will be tailored to New Zealand.  . . 

The indicators cover New Zealand’s current wellbeing, future wellbeing (what we are leaving behind for future generations), and the impact New Zealand is having on the rest of the world. Under these dimensions are a list of topics and indicators developed to measure wellbeing.

You’ll find a link to the suite  of indicators if you click on the link above.  Among them are abstract things like spiritual health,  sense of belonging, ability to be yourself, locus of control and sense of purpose.

If Stats NZ hasn’t managed to properly count concrete things through the census, how on earth is it going to measure these abstract things?

Even if it can, when did spiritual health, a sense of belonging, the ability to be yourself, locus of control (whatever that is) and sense of purpose become the government’s business?

Stats NZ isn’t the only state entity getting touchy-feely.

Eric Crampton reports on a Treasury initiative:

There’s a $35 registration fee for this event at Treasury. . .

I have no clue whether the money goes to the folks running the session or what; I suspect it covers a cost of the deck of cards provided. But they recommend that attendees buy a deck of their cards in advance as practice as well, so attendees would wind up with double the compassion. It’s wonderful how Treasury is helping to promote a small business by hosting it and encouraging folks to buy its products.

Minister Jones would approve, if Heartwork were based in the Provinces.

Here’s the pitch. Treasury is Love.

Imagine surprising Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!

COME TO THIS SOCIAL LAB TO CONNECT AND CREATE TOGETHER.

We’ve created a “compassion starter culture” – a network of people who want to create a more compassionate culture in Aotearoa, starting where we are – in our workplaces.
We’ve been playing and rapidly prototyping with the Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game* – now available publicly. 
We know that the intention for what we want to create has a huge power.
We don’t have all the answers. And we can’t do this mahi alone.

So we’d like to invite you into this social lab.

So we can grow an even more beautiful, and more resilient strain together.
We’ll share what we’re learning while we’re still metabolising. . . 

Crampton concludes:

I, for one, love that this is a priority both for Operations and for Strategy and Performance at Treasury, as indicated by the attendance and presumed endorsement of the Chief Operating Officer and the Manager for Strategy and Performance.

Just imagine how better Treasury would have been prepared for the currency crisis after Muldoon lost election if they had thought to consult both their sun feelings and their moon feelings. I don’t know how New Zealand came through it without that. But we will be far better prepared for the next crisis. Treasury may have few remaining economists, but every single person who remains there will care deeply.

And surely that matters more than anything else.

You can watch a video of the card game here.

Not surprisingly the Taxpayers’ Union isn’t impressed:

Treasury’s ‘well-being’ focus is leading it to replace economic rigor with buzzword culture, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, as top department officials host a ‘social lab’ centered around a ‘Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game’.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The purpose of Treasury is to provide the Government with economic analysis and monitor the success of the wider civil service. It seems this has been abandoned in favour of feel-good card games.”

“It’s no wonder we need a taxpayers’ union when the agency responsible for monitoring public spending is busy trying to ‘surprise Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!’”

“Treasury was once a proud institution, a key cog in the vital economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a bleak vision of the future when you see adult civil servants consulting with their ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ feelings.” . . 

Do the government, and it’s agencies, know about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. . . 

 

Image result for maslow hierarchy of need

The government has a role in ensuring some of its citizens’ basic physiological and safety needs are met.

The abstract concepts in the indicators come under psychological and self-fulfilment needs. Most of these aren’t the business of government and those which are won’t be met unless the government and its agencies get the basics – health, education, welfare, housing, infrastructure . . .  right.

 


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