Friday, May 16, 2008

Nothing to read here?

I haven't been writing that much here. Lack of inspiration, and a feeling that it doesn't get read much (yes, I realise that's a chicken/egg situation).

I do write more often on my livejournal at - even if mostly just social organisation with my friends.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How Labour could win

I think it's fairly inevitable that the Nats will win the next election, failing some sort of amazing stuffup, like John Key flying off to Langley in election week to collect his updated CIA instructions.

However, this needn't be the case. Labour's excessive caution has given average NZ voters a fairly small set of reasons to vote for them. Where they have let go a little (interest-free student loans, 4 weeks holiday) it's been a win for them (the former probably gave them that little push over the line at the last election). What they need to do is a whole lot more like that - policies friendly to the average worker that will drive a wedge with the Nats and enable Labour to paint them effectively as the rich peoples party.

I'd suggest:

1. Zero tax for average families. We actually have this now - if you get Working for Families credits you pay no *net* tax up to just under average earnings. But because they can't be linked, people don't see this. I'd provide an option for anyone in that position to opt for either the current system, or to have no tax and a reduced tax credit.

2. Zero tax for average workers. This would maybe need to be phased, but I'd bring in a personal allowance that would take an increasing set of workers out of tax.

3. Free lifetime education. We should phase out tuition fees and introduce free education for everybody. This would be both degree level for those qualifying and also any other level, so if a 40-year old wanted to retrain for a new career, they would have the benefit of free tuition. Equally, those who have run up existing student loans would get their tuition components credited back.

4. Five weeks annual leave at a time of the workers choosing. Compulsory leave and compulsory work weeks would be banned. This would need to be phased in over a few years to avoid a sudden business impact.

5. Make the very rich pay their share of taxes. I'd introduce a 50% income tax rate on salaries over $200k and a capital gains tax on assets of $1mln. This would have zero effect on ordinary people, would raise a bit of useful revenue and would take the top off the property market, making houses more affordable for ordinary Kiwis.

This would all make the Nats and ACT spin out and blow steam from their nostrils. Good. The more they froth, the more people would realise that they are batting for the guy with the Porsche and the Omaha beach house, not for them. Especially when they start moaning that they can't spend more than $120k on campaigning.

But it won't happen, sadly.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A test

This is just a test.

Friday, November 23, 2007

FUD from Genesis

When I moved into my new flat, it was connected to Genesis Electricity. Getting the bill put in my name resulted in the remains of several trees being delivered to me in the form of bills, corrected bills, bumph, "charity" begging, etc. Destroying the planet is a hard job, but somebody's got to do it.

Amongst the bumph was a document with the following statement, which is repeated at their website:

We know that New Zealanders are concerned about future generation. So we are committed to keeping the energy coming. If lake levels drop we can rely on our other energy sources such as wind and thermal energy.

Now, that would suggest to me a claim that where other generators might cut power in a crisis, Genesis would be able to keep their customers going. That's how I read it anyway.

So I checked this fact with somebody in the industry. Can the customers of power generators be selectively connected / disconnected from the mains? (perhaps in the same way as your hot water tank gets turned off at peak times through a device called a ripple relay).

Nope - can't be done either technically or legally.

So basically, Genesis are putting out a blatantly misleading statement to sell power. As a customer and shareholder (they're an SOE) I object to this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sorry, I gave earlier

I guess I might be being a bit curmudgeonly, but I am slightly irritated with this "Movember" thing that has induced a substantial proportion of the males around town to grow facial minge.

Firstly, I have this belief that essential public services, like healthcare, should be funded out of taxation, not dependent on charitable contributions. The several thousand dollars I fork out each month in tax ought to pay for a decent health system without my having to find a few more quid voluntarily. If it doesn't, then we should be paying more tax.

For me, charities should be funding "nice to have" areas of spending, like sport, parks and art galleries; they should also be campaigning for change (which government obviously can't do).

Secondly, charitable donation should be an act of entirely voluntary altruism. If charities try to guilt trip me into giving them money, the iconoclast in me says no. I object to chuggers, badges, stickers, etc. The Movember thing is getting a bit like poppies are in the UK - you're obliged to have one or people think you're a callous bastard.

Incidentally, did you know that when you give money to charity via a business through the "do you want to donate a dollar for cute babies" thing they hit you with at the till, the supermarket company or whatever is taking a tax deduction. So basically, as you give money to the charity, you decrease the amount of tax money that's going to fund healthcare, etc.

I gave some money this month to the Urewera 17 legal fund. Plus I gave some to the SPCA, just because they're were some chuggers buttonholing people next to a nice SPCA lady sitting quietly with a bucket - so the latter got my money.