Right to die or right to kill?

September 27, 2013

MP Maryan Street has withdrawn her End of Life Choice Bill from the members’ ballot.

The Bill was promoting voluntary euthanasia which is often called the right to die.

It would also give the right to kill.

It would give people, including doctors, the right to offer, provide and ultimately administer fatal medication.

I have twice given doctors permission to not resuscitate a child.

Tom was just 20 weeks old, Dan five years, both had degenerative brain disorders and both had stopped breathing when I was asked if I wanted treatment to continue.

That isn’t what this Bill is about.

Nor is it about pain relief as part of palliative care.

There might be a grey area now about pain relief which gets to the level where it could be fatal but there is a huge gulf between alleviating pain and deliberately killing someone.

If we ever consider our own mortality most of us would choose to die without pain and with all our faculties intact.

Life and death aren’t always that tidy and palliative care isn’t always optimal.

That is a very strong argument for better palliative care, not an argument for euthanasia.

Our lives are our own but the right to kill is a big and very serious step on from the right to die.

Macdoctor has several posts on the issue.


Keeping it in perspective

August 8, 2013

A lot of the media have been referring to the contaminated whey scandal.

On Monday’s Farming Show, Jim Hopkins pointed out that it was a scare not a scandal and Macdoctor adds some more perspective to the issue:

With everyone all abuzz about the latest Fonterra debacle, the MacDoctor thought it may be helpful to inject a little perspective into the situation by comparing it with the SanLu scandal.

SanLu Fonterra
Contaminant: Melamine C. Botulinus
Introduced by: Deliberate, For profit Accidental
Discovered by: Investigation after death of children Routine Investigation
Time taken to public announcement: 5 weeks from confirmation 3 days from confirmation
Number injured 300 000 0
Number hospitalised 54 000 0

Last night’s media release makes the contrast even greater – there was almost no time wasted in making a public announcement.

Contrary to earlier reports, Fonterra didn’t confirm tests until Friday and immediately notified the Ministry of Primary Industries and the public notices followed within hours.

That the company’s inept public relations was responsible for earlier information doesn’t reflect well on it.

Thankfully its food safety standards are considerably better than its initial communication led us to fear.

And for a completely different perspective The Civilian says Chinese media says problem with New Zealand economy is that New Zealand isn’t a ruthless dictatorship:

Chinese media have lashed out at New Zealand this week following the potential contamination of thousands of tins of baby formula by dairy giant Fonterra, saying that it was only able to happen because the country’s economy was not governed by a ruthless authoritarian state willing to terrify its citizens and companies into compliance.

Writing in the China Daily, columnist Huan Bai blamed the recent contamination scare on New Zealand’s “individualist philosophy” which “puts emphasis on personal freedoms ahead of efficiency,” and a laissez-faire economic system that allowed human beings to make choices for themselves, pursue their dreams and be content in their own fallibility without living in continual fear of execution if something goes wrong. . .


Pills aren’t power

April 23, 2013

Macdoctor makes a welcome return to blogging with a post entitled power drugs which explains the differences between Pharmac and the LabourGreen plan for NZ Power.

Pills aren’t power.

Who’d want people who can’t understand the difference running the country?

 


Unions for unions or workers?

January 11, 2012

Unions are supposed to be to advocate for and support workers.

As the series of strikes by the MUNZ in its dispute with Ports of Auckland continues at considerable cost to the company, its customers and the workers, it looks like this union is working in its own interests rather than those of its members.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross  reckons MUNZ is biting the hand that feeds it:

Aucklanders can rightly be concerned at the increasingly rogue nature of the Maritime Union. However there are 500 men and women that work at the Port with even more skin in the game and a lot more to lose. The trade union movement evolved through a desire for workers to band together to protect their common interests. This is not a dishonourable goal. But when a union loses sight of its members long term interests and cavalier negotiating tactics start to backfire, the union itself begins putting its own member’s livelihoods at risk.

Unions still occupy a privileged position in New Zealand’s employment law; a relic of the last Labour administration which has not seen significant overhaul for some years. Few non-government organisations can boast clauses in legislation specifically designed for their benefit. Despite only 18 percent of the nation’s workforce being unionised, trade unions can look to whole sections of the Employment Relations Act written exclusively to aid union survival through legislative advantage.

Up until recently, cool heads and rational people sitting around negotiating tables have meant that little focus has been placed on the role that unions play in society. However, with the bare-faced mockery that the Maritime Union is making of civilised negotiations New Zealanders will soon begin to question what position unions should hold in the modern Kiwi workplace.

Macdoctor reckons the dispute isn’t about money, it’s about control:

Is PoAL controlled by the shareholders and the board, or is it controlled by the union? That is what the fight is about. The lives of the stevedores involved are a secondary consideration, as are the customers and the business of the port. Even less of a consideration are the ratepayers who will wind up all paying higher rates should PoAL be permanently damaged by this squabble.

Whaleoil and Keeping Stock both have posts quote POAL communications manager Catherine Etheredge who says:

I can confirm that the average remuneration for a full time stevedore, in the year ended June 30, 2011, was $91,480. The average remuneration for a part time stevedore (guaranteed at least 24 hours work a week) was $65,518.

53% of full time stevedores (123 individuals) earned over $80,000. 28% (43 individuals) earned over $100,000 with the highest earner making $122,000.

The averages were calculated by POAL’s payroll team based on actual payments, including for leave days, medical insurance and superannuation contributions. (For employees covered by the collective agreement, POAL matches their superannuation contributions up to a maximum of 7%.) We excluded those who had worked for less than the full 12 months e.g. had left part way through the year.

Employees are also entitled to 15 days sick leave per annum, accruing up to 45 days. All shift workers are entitled to five weeks annual leave. Training for all stevedoring tasks (crane driving, straddle driving and lashing) is undertaken in house and is paid for by the company.

One question that has been asked is how many hours you have to work to earn that $91,000. Stevedores who earned the average $91,000 in the 2010/11 financial year were paid for an average of 43 hours per week, excluding leave days. If you factor leave days in, that increases to 49 hours per week.

This leads to the key issue for the company – the high amount of paid downtime – an average of 35% of total hours paid. An employee getting paid for a 43 hour week is only working around 28 hours; for a 40 hour week, 26 hours. In a busy week, employees get paid for 66.5 hours but can only work for a maximum of 44.5.

On Monday 9 January, to give a recent example, we paid 26 staff a total of $5,484,80 for downtime, because they were entitled to be paid until the end of their set eight hour shift even though the ship had finished & they had gone home. In another example employees worked two hours of an overtime shift but were paid for the full eight hours.

This is not a cost-efficient nor sustainable labour model, especially when the company is not covering its cost of capital, cannot therefore justify further investment in order to grow, and its closest competitor has a labour utilisation rate in excess of 80%. (At Port of Tauranga stevedores start and finish work when a ship arrives and departs).

The company has offered an upfront 10% increase to hourly rates along with the retention of existing terms and conditions in return for more flexible rosters which would significantly reduce the amount of paid downtime. Employees would have the opportunity to plan their roster a month in advance. This proposal would result in a people being remunerated for fewer overall hours at a higher rate than they would currently get for the same paid hours. To be fair, until such time as container volumes recover/improve, the 10% increase to hourly rates would not (as some commentators have suggested) push average remuneration over $100K.

Catherine Etheredge
Ports of Auckland

It’s very difficult to understand the union’s position in the face of these numbers.

Report on SOEs tells only part of the story

January 6, 2012

The Ernst and Young report on the performance of SOEs shows they make healthy “economic profits”.

But that is only part of the story.

Dene Mackenzie showed that returns from the SOEs which are likely to be sold are lacklustre:

While some of the state-owned enterprises provide a large dividend payment to the Government in dollar value, the dividend yield is well below the industry average. 

Macdoctor has come to a similar conclusion:

. . .  I tend to look only at the cash figures involved. . . . The first is the amount of actual cash paid to the government in the fiscal year – not the capital gains or retained earnings – just the cash. That figure is $95 million. 49% of that is $46.5 million. That is how much money the government loses each year by selling MRP.

The second figure is how much it would cost to keep. The independent valuation for MRP is $3,631 million. 49% of that is $1,779 million. Assuming the government could borrow at a mere 5% . . . the interest on borrowing this amount is $89 million. This figure is bigger than 46.5 million, so it is worth selling Mighty River Power.

But it’s not just the money:

National want to sell down these assets because they (correctly in my opinion) see no reason why a government should be dabbling in electricity generation. Labour hate the sales because they think government should be the be-all-and-end-all of everything. They like to call these assets “strategic”. This is code for “we don’t trust the market”.

I’d rather trust the market than politicians and I’d rather sell a minority share in a few SOEs than borrow more which is the alternative if we are to ocntinue to invest in necessary infrastructure.

 

 


Tax not the answer

December 28, 2011

Quote of the day:

Now, when you can explain to me how a packet of Pringles in a child’s lunchbox is somehow better than a packet of nuts and raisins, I will agree that a tax on sugar is a good thing.

Macdoctor in sugar sickness.

He was responding to a column from Tony Falkenstein who suggested a sugar tax was the best way to fight obesity.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 30, 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.


Failed policies of noughties didn’t help children

January 21, 2011

The United Nation’s report on the state of children in New Zealand says they – the children – don’t have enough rights.

On the contrary, the problem isn’t a lack of rights for children but a lack of responsibility from some parents.

This was alluded to by Children’s Commissioner, John Angus, who told Breakfast (not yet on line) that one of the best things for children would be getting their parents off benefits and into paid work.

This is not an attack on the people who require temporary assistance. It is an indictment on those long term beneficiaries who expect hand outs without taking any responsibility in return, the one’s Macdoctor describes as the sub-culture of feral parents.

The hand wringers say the problem is that children are marginalised, they don’t have a voice and they can’t vote.

Tosh.

Their parents, grandparents, teachers, health professionals and anyone else charged with caring and protecting them have loud voices and they all vote.

We also have a Families Commission and if the report does anything good it will be to show that the commission is a waste of money.

Even if it doesn’t do that, the report is an indictment on the failed policies of the noughties – the ones which bought votes by giving money to people in want rather than in genuine need.

These high tax and redistribute policies didn’t help children. They saddled them with a legacy of debt which is constraining the economy and will reduce opportunities for them as they grow up.


Too many blind eyes – updated & updated again

December 21, 2010

Another child has joined the long list of victims of child abuse.

It is a list of shame and what is particularly shameful about this case is that other people must have known and turned blind eyes to her suffering.

She is a victim of her parents who have been charged wtth the abuse but she is also a victim of too many blind eyes.

Details made public so far suggest a failure of systems or people within CYFS.

But there must also have been people in the wider family and neighbourhood who saw something in the two years this poor child was being subject to horrific abuse but failed to get help.

Macdoctor says:

 It is not CYFS who are mostly at fault here (though I think there have been severe errors of judgement on their behalf), it is the family members that have let this little girl down. Their silence has allowed one of their own to be brutally tortured and severely psychologically scarred. The testimony of the family friend (who, at least, tried to do something about it) makes it very obvious that none of the immediate family could have been oblivious to this abuse – yet it continued for two years. . .

He calls for zero tolerance for child abuse and he is right.

Only when no-one turns a blind eye to abuse will children be safe.

UPDATE:

Napier police are investigating the suspicious death of a five year old

Close family members were assisting police with their enquiries and police were not actively seeking anyone else in connection with her death, he said.

Another victim of too many blind eyes?

UPDATE 2:

Emmerson’s cartoon in today’s Herald shows the parent test.

Social Development Minsiter Paula Bennett writes: New Zealand is letting its chidlren down.


For the sake of the children

December 14, 2010

“If you really want to do something “for the sake of the children” then get their parents employed.”

This comes from Macdoctor who does his usual thorough analysis of stats showing more children were admitted to hospital during the recession.

Lindsay Mitchell comes to a similar conclusion:

Children in families with work do better than children with families on benefits despite both being on low incomes.

Children in families that work suffer the least abuse or neglect.

Children in families that work grow up with similar expectations for themselves.

The first aim of welfare reform must be to get people who can work into work. It is best for them, their children, society and the economy.

A caring society has a responsibility to look after those who can’t look after themselves. But a caring society must also help those who can help themselves to do so.

This could well be more expensive than just giving people benefits in the short term but it is the only way to halt  benefit dependence and the vicious circle of deprivation it leads to.


Did you see the one about . . .

October 17, 2010

Undo, cut, tape . . . wait that’s not right – old technology meets new at Something Should Go Here.

Graham Lay on New Zealand English – guest post at  Quote Unquote

My shoes don’t eat meat – Laughy Kate on vegan footwear.

The recession made us poorer – Macdoctor puts the blame where it ought to be.

Silver Ferns turn into golden ferns – RivettingKate Taylor shares her excitement.

Who is punching above their weight – Eye To The Long Run does the numbers on the Australian & New Zealand medal tally.

An alternative to Breakfast – the fifth of Keeping Stock’s daily posts for those missing Paul Henry.

If real wars were like trade wars -Cafe Hayek  shows how silly it all is (Hat Tip Anti Dismal). 

Who should pay for university – Anti Dismal on student loans.


Did you see the one about . . .

August 17, 2010

Bookworm – creative photography at Mila’s Daydreams. (Hat tip: Beaties Book Blog).

I love my job – RivettingKate Taylor on the joys of her work.

The blogosphere prevails – Zen Tiger marks his 1000th post at New Zealand Conservative with some thoughts on blogging (a bit late with this one).

It’s inappropriate to be judgemental – Karl du Fresne on the ubiquitous prissy euphemism.

Round numbers are over rated: celebrating 191 posts – Darcy Cowan at Sci Blogs does the numbers.

Myths of socialism # 1 – Macdoctor in the first of a series countering the left’s mistakes.


Right to die gives right to kill

July 23, 2010

When proponents of euthanasia talk about the right to die they omit to explain that it involves other people and would also give the right to kill.

Would health professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm want to do that?  Is it fair to ask them to? Even if the answers to those questions were affirmative, how could we be sure decisions would always be based on medical and humanitarian grounds?

Macdoctor points out the dangers of a financial incentive to hasten the end of dying patients.

This brings me to the central problem I have with human euthanasia.

It is a cheap cop-out.

Least I be called insensitive in the face of Dr Pollock’s eloquent and  emotional letter, let me say that I say this entirely in the context of medical practice. I do not consider Dr. Pollock’s desire to die rather than suffer a “cop-out”, I consider the legalisation of euthanasia to be a cheap (and nasty) alternative to adequate palliative care. And therein lies the chief dilemma.

Governments being what they are, as soon as euthanasia is legalised, there will immediately be a subtle drive to euthanase dying people.

 Would it be possible to have safe guards that ensure that those who wanted to opt for voluntary euthanasia  could without the danger that others would feel pressured into it?  They may feel they have to opt for an early death, not for their own sakes but that of their family and friends or even because they felt they were using scarce resources and wasting the time of the people caring for them.

Most of us think if we were severely disabled we would opt to forgo treatment, but would we?

Theodore Dalrymple writes of a man whose life support was about to be turned off until he blinked:

Mr Rudd, 43, was injured in a motor accident. He was paralysed and thought to be severely brain damaged. . .

However, taken to the neuro-intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, he was kept alive by the miracle of modern technology, without which he would undoubtedly have died.

His close relatives and doctors thought that the life he now had was not worth living. They prepared to turn off the machines keeping him alive. They thought this is what he would have wanted. It is also what most of us probably would have thought too.

At the last hour it was noticed he was able to move his eyes and that by doing so he could communicate a little. And what he communicated to everyone’s surprise was that he wanted to continue to live, even the life that he was now living. In other words his relatives and the doctors, with the best intentions in the world, had been mistaken. . .

That would have been a fatal mistake.

Dalrymple goes on to explain about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and how that measure could influence treatment.

Health policies are often decided on the basis of QALYs. Interestingly and alarmingly the QALY assumes that the life of a quadriplegic (someone paralysed from the neck down) not only has no value for the person who lives it but has a negative value for him: that is to say such a person would rather be dead and in fact would be better off if he were dead.

Whatever they thought before they were paralysed, however, most quadriplegics think their lives are worth living.

With a few exceptions, such as the young rugby player who was accompanied by his parents to Switzerland to be able to be given assistance in suicide, they don’t want to die. The fact that before they were paralysed most quadriplegics thought (as most people, including health economists think) that life as a quadriplegic would not be worth living but change their minds once they are quadriplegic, has very important implications for the idea of living wills.

In fact it invalidates the very idea. It is impossible to decide in advance what would be intolerable for you until you experience it.

When discussing this situation most of us think we would choose death rather than a life with severe impairments, but how can we know how great the desire for life, or death, would be until we are faced with making a choice?

When euthanasia is spoken of, it’s usually described as providing a merciful end, but would we feel the need to hasten our deaths if we could have a painless and natural one instead?

Dalrymple raises another problem. If we did legalise the right to kill, where would we draw the line and how would we stop it moving?

One of the problems with assisted suicide and euthanasia is what the Americans call mission creep. We live in non-discriminatory times: why should only certain categories of patients have the benefit of what Keats called “easeful death”? Indeed, when euthanasia was legalised in Holland it was not long before a psychiatrist killed a patient with supposedly intractable depression.

Why should only the terminally ill and the quadriplegic have the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia? Do other people not suffer equally, at least in their own estimation?  An old saying goes that hard cases make bad law and it is also true that there are pitiful cases in which a quick death would seem a merciful release.

Unfortunately it is well within the capacity of carers to make suffering unbearable and therefore death seem the preferable, quick and merciful option. And if people have a right to death on demand then someone has a duty to provide it, otherwise the right is worthless, a dead letter.

Who is this person who has such a duty? Will we strike off doctors for refusing to kill their patients? This is something that the indomitable Mr Rudd would not approve of and I think he deserves to be heard.

Euthanasia is not the same as choosing to forgo treatment. It is not passively letting someone die or even giving pain relief which might have the side effect of hastening death. It is actively killing and if we give the right to do that how can we be sure it wouldn’t be misused?

Rather than agitating for the right to die we should be agitating for the right to live with dignity and without pain.

The right to die sounds like control is in the hands of the patient and I struggle to see any difference between that and suicide.  But euthanasia is much more than that. In legalising the right to die we’d also be legalising the right to kill.

UPDATE:

Lucia Maria aat NZ Conservative has similar concerns in  euthanasia raises it’s ugly head again.

Dim Post is cautiously in favour of legalising euthanasie but also sees the dangers in death panels.

goNZo Freakpower supports legalisation in any last requests,

So do Brian Edwards in the doctor and the right to die and Richard McGrath at Not PC in Cancers – personal and parliamentary.

Lindsay Mitchell asks what happend to the death with dignity bill?


Did you see the one about . . .

July 4, 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.


Critical Mass

June 23, 2010

MacDoctor, Laughy Kate and A Cat of Impossible Colour were the blogs I chose for my spot on Critical Mass  yesterday.

Macdoctor has a winning prescription for posts on health, blue-tinged politics and life.

He writes clearly and cleverly, is rational reasoned and witty.

Laughy Kate specialises in short, snappy posts which show an appreciation of life’s quirkier side.

A Cat of Impossible Colour  is a delightful mix of fashion – of the thrifted kind – her writing, her cat and life in general. If her novel – due out next year – is anything like her blog it will be a wonderful read.

My Critical Mass spot is usually every two or three weeks. But as Noelle McCarthy, who alternates with me in speaking about the internet,  is standing in for Jim Mora and can’t interview herself today’s was only a week after the last one when I discussed the Air New Zealand Best Blog Awards.


The winner of the Best Blog Award is . . .

June 10, 2010

,. . . being announced at 2pm today NZ time.

At least I think it is – the NZ Bloggers’ Union says it was being announced yesterday but I think that’s a typo.

In case you missed it yesterday, I’m offering an electronic bottle of whatever you fancy to the person who picks the top three.  I’ve disabled comments for this post,  go back two posts,  to leave your pick.

If I was a betting woman my money would be on (in alphabetic order which I forgot to do in yesterday’s post): Cactus Kate, Kiwiblog and Macdoctor.


The winner of the Best Blog Award is . . .

June 9, 2010

. . . to be announced tomorrow at the Air NZ Best Blog Award.

If I was a betting woman I’d put my money on Kiwiblog, MacDoctor and Cactus Kate for the top three.

And I’d give an honourable mention to Air NZ for not getting upset at having the award named after them when the comapny, and its chief executive,  had nothing at all to do with it.

An electronic bottle of whatever you fancy is yours if you can pick the top three finalists.


Did you see the one about . . .

June 6, 2010

Bring your own basil (and garlic and fresh vegetables) – Brian Edwards on pizza problems.

I’m in love (again!) – Lindsay Perigo has a close encounter of an All Black kind.

An interview with Hone Harawira – Dim Post goes where no blogger has gone before.

Sayonara second class meat  Cactus Kate converts to Japanese beef.

Quote of the day – Anti Dismal sees what entrepreneurs see.

Emissions Tradings goings on – Keeping Stock reminds us what Winston was like.

None so blind – Macdoctor diagnoses a problem in Labour’s caucus.

Police crackdown on speedsters to enter new phase – Zen Tiger at NZ Conservative gets satirical. He’s also asking for people to give a taste of New Zealand to help an overseas reader.

May 10 NZ blogs Sitemeter rankings at Open Parachut and  May Half Done NZ blog stats at Something Should Go Here apropos of which in Further on BOT Kiwiblog suggests a ratings site which uses a bot (whatever that it) to scan blogs and collect the data needed for rankings.


Taxes not low when Tax Freedom Day’s in May

May 18, 2010

Last Tuesday was Tax Freedom Day.

That’s the notional day when the Business Round Table calculates that the  average New Zealander stops working for the government.

Executive director Roger Kerr said:

 . . .   the calculation of 11 May was based on central government core expenditure, which is forecast to be 35.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the government’s December 2009 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update.

 “Tax Freedom Day in 2008 and 2009 fell on 10 and 11 May respectively, according to revised data. However, it arrived two weeks earlier in 2007 (27 April). The big delay in the arrival of Tax Freedom Day since then reflects the rapid growth of spending during the last term of the previous government. The present government’s forecasts indicate little relief for taxpayers in the next three years. Mr Kerr said that the Business Roundtable regarded government spending as the best measure of the overall tax burden because almost all government spending ultimately has to be financed from present or deferred taxation (borrowing). It ‘looks through’ periods when the budget is in deficit or surplus.

The growth in spending in the previous government’s last term shows how expensive the 2005 election was and how much of our money was used to win it.

The dead rats National had to swallow before the 2008 election and the response to the world recession has kept state spending higher than it ought to be.

There’s little comfort in the finding that Tax Freedom Day here is earlier than the OECD average of June 14.

This reflects the sharp expansion in spending by many OECD countries, partly in response to the global financial crisis. It highlights the need for “large scale fiscal adjustment” as countries recover from the economic downturn which is recommended by the International Monetary Fund.

A comparison with those countries  came up again last week with a report showing that our tax wedge – individual tax as a percentage of labour costs – is amongst the lowest in the OECD.

However Kiwiblog  points out this report isn’t comparing apples with apples:

This is not a measure of the overall level of taxation in the economy. It is a measure of the difference between gross pay and net pay. There is a huge difference.

 Macdoctor also noticed that report  didn’t take account of consumption taxes, compulsory superannuation and employers’ contributions to social security.

Back to the Business Round Table report which noted:

 A number of fast-growing Asian and other countries have levels of government spending, and hence tax burdens, that are well below the OECD average. Their advantage has increased as they have not generally increased spending to the same extent as developed countries.

 If the tax burden is measured as a ratio of taxation to GDP instead of spending, the picture of New Zealand as a highly taxed country is accentuated. The latest OECD figures show that the ratio of ‘general government total tax and non-tax receipts’ to GDP for New Zealand is 40 percent for 2010, well above the average OECD ratio of 36.6 percent and much higher than Australia’s ratio of 33.1 percent.

Kerr isn’t suggesting there should be no tax:

“While soundly based government spending on public goods and a safety net is justified, economic research suggests that beyond a certain point government

spending and taxation are harmful to economic growth.”

Finance Minister Bill English has given pretty strong signals we’ll get tax cuts in Thursday’s Budget.

That in tandem with measures to improve public service efficiency and economic growth gives some hope that Tax Freedom Day will be earlier in future.

That will provide security for essential public services while allowing us to retain a bit more of our own money.


Sometime’s a cigar is only a cigar

May 14, 2010

An MP who had been upset by something John Key had done was at a meeting with him.

The Prime Minister, knowing he wasn’t in his MP’s good books, made a self-depreciating joke about it.

It was exactly the sort of joke he made about not being welcome at a Tuhoe dinner.

Part of his charm is his ability to laugh at himself and I’ve heard him make similar, self depreciating jokes several times.

I am certain that was all he was doing in this instance.

Not everyone sees it that way.

Over at Tumeke! Bomber and Tim think he was referring to cannibalism.  Deborah thinks it was ignorant and offensive.

On the other hand Kiwiblog says his own sense of humour is one reason he’d never be an MP;  Keeping Stock thinks people should lighten up and  was inspired to make a contribution to New Zealand Music Month. Something Should Go Here thinks it was a good joke.

Macdoctor thinks it was a clever but that would mean John was being deliberately offensive and I’m sure he wasn’t.

It was a joke, directed at himself and while I can see how some people might find offensive meaning in it I have no doubt that wasn’t his intent.

Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar but people will always be able to make something else of it.


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