Hickey’s last post

February 24, 2009

Bernard Hickey is retiring from his blog Show Me The Money.

I understand his reasons – the demands of his job and a desire for more time at home – but I will miss his contribution to the blogosphere.

In his last post he asks John Key to trust us with the truth about the economy.

I think his view is very pessimistic one and I don’t agree with his suggestion Key cancel’s the tax cuts but I do agree with the need to direct spending to the things which really matter, like education and infrastructure.


Passing on the brillante baton

September 18, 2008

How exciting and heart warming it was to check in to Homepaddock yesterday morning and discover I’d been blessed with a Brillante Blog award.

It was bestowed by Deborah who’s In A Strange Land  where she writes intelligently and thoughtfully on feminism, motherhood, parenting, work,  politics, life . . . and occasionally posts on food with photos that cause weight gain if you look at them too long.

Once you get a Brillante you’re invited to spread the happiness by passing it on to blogs you enjoy.

The rules are simple:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominator on her/his blog.

So after a day of contemplation my nominees in alphabetical order are:

Annie Fox the nom de blog of Anna Wolf whose posts are warm, witty, passionate, frank, down to earth and full of life which is all the more remarkable because she’s writing about dying.

Phillipa Stephenson at Dig-N -Stir . There is on-going discussion about the difference between journalism and blogging. Pip does both supberbly, writing concise, well researched posts which reflect her knowldege and interest in the subject matter, her ability as a wordsmith and, where appropriate, her wit.

Dim Post for showing you can take a dig without getting dirty; and because every day is improved by humour.

Ex-expat who makes me think with posts that are educational, enlightening and/or entertaining.

Will de Cleene at goNZofreakpower whose posts aren’t frequent but point me to places I wouldn’t find by myself.

Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind  earns the award for the quotes and cartoons of the day by themselves. But there’s more: well reasoned posts on a variety of topics with special mention for not confining himself to New Zealand.

Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock for the quanity, quality, consistency and variety of his posts with extra points for his enthusiasm and sense of humour.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog because I can’t go past the godfather of the NZ blogosphere. It helps that I share many of his views, but even when I don’t, I admire his well written, researched and reasoned posts. He’s open about his bias but never bigoted.

Dave Gee at Life from Right Field because we southerners must stick together and with special mention for originality and pictures.

Macdoctor if he employs the same wit, intelligence, reason and compassion in medicine which he displays in blogging I’d be very happy to be his patient.

Monkeywithtypewriter , not just a token primate, he’s also got perception and a sense of humour.

The team at No Minister because they often amuse, sometimes shock and enable me to feel moderate. They get a special mention for visuals too.

Not PC for the art and architecture.

NZBC goes for quality rather than quantity and gets bonus points for humour and orginality.

Poneke for the quality of posts in which he uses the skills that made him an award winning journalist. Besides, you’ve got to admire a bloke who’s besotted with buses.

Busted Blonde at Roarprawn because she’s upfront, sassy, witty, in the know and shares it with style.

Bernard Hickey at Show Me The Money because he takes numbers and adds words that make sense of them.

Queen Bee at The Hive : she’s got contacts, she gets the facts and she’s the miistress of succinct posts with sting.

The team at Tumeke! for variety and originality. Tim Selwyn deserves an honourable mention by himself for doing the monthly blogosphere rankings.

Well the rules did say at least seven.

P.S. I have an aversion to chain letters or anything resembling them and I can do the maths: if seven people send something to at least seven people who send it …. it won’t be long to run out of blogs which haven’t got it. So should any of you on whom I’ve bestowed a Brillante want to change the rules or ignore them altogether, I won’t be offended, you won’t be courting calamity, your family and pets will be safe and the sky won’t fall in.


Greens want to slam door on foreign owners

August 25, 2008

The Green Party’s concern that foreign speculators are making it more difficult for would-be first home owners to buy a property has prompted co-leader Russell Norman to call for a ban on foreign ownership.

“We believe land should be owned by New Zealand citizens and residents only and our laws should be changed to say that,” Dr Norman said.

“Why should we allow Singaporean, Australian or American speculators to buy investment properties in our country, shutting first-time home buyers from the market.”

The question of whether overseas buyers were making it difficult was discussed at a recent farm forum. The panelists – two farmers, an accountant and a farm advisor, were adamant that foreign investment in land was a good thing.

If it boosted prices, vendors recieved more for their properties which they were able to reinvest elsewhere in the economy.

The new owners farmed the land so that they and/or their staff became part of the community contributing not just economically but socially too. If they chose not to keep the farm, it  was put on the market and available for another purchaser from New Zealand or elsewhere because no matter who owns it, they can’t take land away.

What people do with land is a matter for local and central governments through district and regional plans and the Resource Management Act. Foreign owners already have to satisfy the Overseas Invesment Commission before they buy farmland and that is a sufficient hurdle.

Norman isn’t talking about farm land though, he’s talking residential property where the market has already slowed up, even in North Otago which has been insulated from the recession by the positive influence of dairying.

Banning foreign investors would only add to the difficulties would-be vendors are already facing and slash the value of investments people have made in their homes.

Update: Bernard Hickey blogs at Show Me the Money that house prices in Mt Eden/Epsom have fallen 30.4% in the three months to July.


Lower dollar good news and bad news

August 12, 2008

The good news about the falling dollar, down to an 11 month low of US69.84c this morning, is that we get more for our exports.

However, the lower value of our currency also increases the price of imports which is particularly bad news for farmers when two of our biggest budget items – fertiliser and fuel – are already highly priced.

One reason for the dollar’s fall is the Reserve Bank’s decision to relax its guard against inflation by lowering the official cash rate.

Several commentators said this would be good for exporters, but I’m not sure how much better off we are if the gains on the swings of increased returns for our produce is countered on the roundabout of increased prices for inputs.

Nor do I think that a weak currency is a good recipe for a strong economy.

And I am definitely not relaxed about a little bit more inflation. The memory of the economic disaster which resulted when all the little bits more became a lot and led to inflation rates of more than 20% in the 1980s, and the painful process of bringing it down again, are still too fresh.

I’m with Don Brash who, when he was governor of the Reserve Bank, told a public meeting that a little bit of inflation was like being a little bit pregnant, it doesn’t stop at a little bit.

The B- I got for stage one Economics, as it was then known, doesn’t qualify me to debate this issue. But The Visible Hand in Economics and Show Me The Money  and Brian Fallow  are qualified and they all warn about the dangers of going soft on inflation too.

The falling dollar is a good news-bad news story for exporters and if it contributes to higher inflation the bad will more than outweigh the good.


Swimming Through Syrup In Gumboots

July 2, 2008

Ever wondered what it’s like swimming through syrup in gumboots? Try getting the drainage at your school fixed.

Show Me The Money describes Mike Hosking’s interview on Close UP:

The Education Ministry’s National Property Manager Paul Burke first went through his bureaucratic routine of trying to explain why the school hadn’t quite jumped through all the hoops yet, despite three years of trying. He was trying to explain the shape of the hoops, the number of hoops, how round they were, what they were made of and the exact nature of the leaps required to jump said hoops. He wore a lovely suit with a beautiful tie. He seemed like a man who knew the rules very well. 

I wanted to throw things at the television. Mike Hosking avoided throwing things. But he did quickly tear apart the Kafka-esque web the good bureaucrat was weaving. Why was it taking so long? Why couldn’t the drains be fixed? How many consultants does it take to change the lightbulbs at Tiaho school….and why?

If this was an isolated case it would be bad enough, but it’s not.

It’s the product of the form filling, tick-box, hoop jumping, policy and proceedure before progress mentality which gives bureaucrats the power to say no but strips them of the courage to say yes.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog


Did you see the one about…

June 29, 2008

Picks of the week from Homepaddock:

EFA anti-democratic – Clark

It’s not what you say

Feds chief not out to win friends

Ag & science not mutually exclusive

Porn in the paddock 

And from around the blogosphere:

Another ugly view from inside government & Click here to understand the the power of blogs from Show Me The Money.

Good Lord but he’s out to lunch from Dig N Stir

Some questions about unions from Keeping Stock

The Hive in general, and on the ETS in particular eg Every New Zealander should read

And Bullshit detector rings alarmingly from Poneke


Hickey accepts Cullen’s challenge

May 28, 2008

Bernard Hickey blogged this morning in Show Me the Money that every day from now until the election he’s going to accept Michael Cullen’s challenge to identify some pointless or wasteful Government spending that could be cut.

 

This includes spending by state-owned enterprises and jobs being offered by all manner of agencies and quangos. This is going to be fun because there is a lot of low-hanging fruit.

The good doctor believes the government runs a tight ship and critics won’t be able to find much in the way of cost savings from government spending to fund tax cuts or to help reduce the inflationary pressures that are keeping interest rates high. He has challenged National and any other proponent of income tax cuts (although I am not one right now) to explain how they will be able to afford tax cuts without massive cuts in government spending and services.

My sense is that nine years of strong government spending growth have created an atmosphere where bureaucrats employ extra people, pay for more consultants and launch more projects without asking the basic question: Do we really need to do this and will we create more value for the economy by doing this than by allowing the private sector to use these resources?

 His first example was Transpower’s new website winterpower watch which was difficult to find and didn’t tell him what he needed to know.

 

He asked for other suggestions and this afternoon added Housing New Zealand staff’s weekend conference at the luxury Tongariro Lodge which has been widely reported in the MSM and on blogs including kiwiblog  and No Minister.

In the same post Bernard wonders why the Government is looking for a fulltime web communications advisor.

 I don’t get it. I can understand IRD and ACC and a few other government departments that deal with the public need fulltime webmasters to run sites that provide services to the public. That could actually be quite useful and efficient.

But the MSD is an policy advice body. It deals with ministers and other bureaucrats. Surely it’s not that hard. You put all the advice and research up on the site using the basic publishing systems already there. It’s either publicly available on the Internet or it’s available only to other bureaucrats via an Intranet. Do we really need someone doing this fulltime?

Here’s the most interesting gem from the job description. It explains why the MSD wants a fulltime web manager.

The Knowledge Sharing and Communications unit is based within the CSRE group in National Office and has a team of nineteen staff. It includes a Library team to provide effective and proactive library and information services to all Ministry staff.

Just the communications unit within the MSD, let alone the MSD head office, has 19 staff!

Add these examples to the areas ripe for culling suggested by The Hive and me and the potential for tax cuts might increase from just enough for a block of cheese to an amount that could buy a whole cow.

 

 

 


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