If only this was scientific


What do you think of Labour’s universal student allowance pledge?

It’s a wise and much-needed policy (135 votes, 23.6%)

It’s a cynical bribe (334 votes, 58.4%)

I just wish they’d done it earlier (103 votes, 18.0%)

Stuff polls are not scientific and reflect the opinions of only those internet users who have chosen to participate.

What’s more important?


If it’s about buying votes then Labour’s promise to phase in a universal student allowance deserves the top billing it’s getting.

But if it’s what’s best for the people most in need and so for New Zealand National’s promise to spend $47m boosting literacy and numeracy should have been the lead.

This is the way the ODT  website ranks them:

Latest Political news

Increased subsidies for the offspring of middle and upper income parents gets the top three headlines.

And seven stories down there’s the one which is going to help improve literacy and numeracy for young children, many of whom will be from poorer families.

The NZ Herald promotes seven other stories before it gets to the literacy and numeracy one and I couldn’t find a reference to it at all on Stuff’s Vote 08 election coverage page.

Kiwiblog makes a similar observation on priorities.

Everything comes at a cost


More in your pocket may come at a cost.

This is the headline on an ODT opnion piece by Elizabeth Mackie, a Dominican Sister, who is writing on behalf of the Dominican Mission and Justice Committee.

She concludes by saying:

I’d like to offer a simple checklist to help us vote beyond the rhetoric of tax cuts.

If tax cuts come with increased government borrowing and debt, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts further limit the resources available for protecting species, or taking care of national parks and wild places, or protecting the Earth itself, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts mean that fewer resources will be applied to address climate change, the cost is too high.

If the billions spent on tax cuts mean that less is available to meet historic Treaty claims, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts result in increased numbers of children living in poverty, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts are achieved through reduction in health, education and social support services, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts reduce the nation’s capacity to habilitate prisoners and compensate victims, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts deepen divisions in the social fabric of this nation, the cost is too high.

What price tax cuts? We all need to be sure about the real costs before we tick the boxes on November 8.

If those are her priorities, then it is not only the cost of tax cuts which is too high, so too is the cost of everything else which doesn’t address the issues she’s raised.

If we look back at the last nine years of Labour’s mis-management we can see that, by Elizabeth’s criteria, the costs of much of their policy has been too high.

And today we have another one – a universal student allowance.

Keeping Stock notes the country is broke and asks: where is the money coming from?

Everything comes at a cost but good policy also brings benefits which justify the cost.

A universal student allowance is not good policy and the benefits to the few who receive it will not justify the cost to the many who pay for it.

It certainly woudn’t get any ticks when measured against Elizabeth’s checklist.

NZ First seeks student vote


New Zealand First is setting its sights on younger voters  with a promise to introduce a universal student allowance. Winsotn Peters made the announcement in address to University of Otago students today.

A universal student allowance would encourage more students into tertiary education,” he said.

“It would reduce the dependence of loans and the cycle of huge debt that many of our graduates face, especially those who seek the highest qualifications or choose careers in areas such as medicine.”

Do we need to encourage more students into tertiary education?

There are shortages of some skills, including trades which don’t require a univesity education, but I wasn’t aware of a shortage of students or graduates, in general.

As for reducing the dependence on loans, students do have some choices. They can take a gap year (or more) to earn money before they start university or part way through their studies; they can work full time in their holidays and part time during term; and they can take a strict approach to differentiating between necessities and luxuries to reduce the amount they need to borrow.

But regardless of what they do their education won’t be free. If students pay less for their education then taxpayers will pay more.

And paying more for the relatively short time they’re students and less for the long time most will be tax payers, is better for them, all taxpayers and the economy.

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