Why our well-being won’t necessarily be improved by opting for GPI instead of GDP

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations has welcomed “Prime Minister Jacinda Adrian’s recent announcement that measuring the national’s progress by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was flawed”.

Let’s overlook the flaw in the council’s spelling of the PM’s name and focus on the implication that Jacinda Ardern was announcing the discovery that GDP has shortcomings as an economic measure.

It depends what you are trying to measure, of course.

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations mentions “the growing realisation” that GDP is “narrowly economic in focus and ignored important social and environmental aspects”.

The realisation – awareness would be a better word for it – is several decades old.

Consider this from an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond back in the 1990s (and what he was saying about gross domestic product and gross national produce had been recognised long before that).  Continue reading “Why our well-being won’t necessarily be improved by opting for GPI instead of GDP”

The Martinborough message to ministers must be ‘lift your game’

As the  Labour  caucus  suns  itself  at   Martinborough, and  members  savour one  or  two of  the  local   products,  it  may seem  like a  golden summer for the party.

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  is  just  back  from Europe  where some of  New Zealand’s finest  journalists  modestly   recorded   how  she  bedazzled  the elites.

And although some  commentators on the  Left, notably  Chris Trotter, have rather carpingly  been  critical  of  Ardern  because there  is little to show for  the  “transformation”   which the PM promised  New Zealanders, caucus members  are unshaken in  their  conviction  transformation will happen.

Never  mind  the  own  goals  scored  by  Clare  Curran and Meka Whaitiri, not to mention Iain  Lee-Galloway  on the  Karel Sroubek  affair, or  Phil  Twyford with  his KiwiBuild fiasco:  the  Ardern  government   will soon  be tackling education reform,  introducing a  capital gains tax  to make  the  system  “fairer”,   and  giving  trade unions greater powers in  wage bargaining. Continue reading “The Martinborough message to ministers must be ‘lift your game’”

Little was apologetic about NZ’s justice system – now let’s see if the Saudis crucify us

When was an official crucifixion or beheading last conducted in this country and – if readers can recall the occasion – what offence had been committed by the person being put to death?

Point of Order asks because:

  1. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed a man by crucifixion in the holy city of Mecca a few months ago, according to a report in Business Insider AustraliaCrimes in Saudi Arabia such as homosexuality and attending anti-government rallies have previously led to crucifixion sentences. Unlike the biblical crucifixions carried out by the Romans against Christians in antiquity, Saudi crucifixions usually involve displaying a beheaded corpse in public on a cross.
  2. NZ’s Justice Minister Andrew Little last week stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to confronted criticism made about New Zealand’s human rights record. Saudi Arabia was represented on the panel which considered this country’s  performance.

In a fair and decent world, Little should have been demanding the Saudis lift their game in the human rights department.  Instead he became alarmingly craven. Continue reading “Little was apologetic about NZ’s justice system – now let’s see if the Saudis crucify us”

Contradictory Kiwis – some ideas should fly while others are squashed

A friend of a friend has been musing on plans to introduce an end-of-life bill, to decriminalise marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use, and to give prisoners the vote, no matter their crime.

These – he reckons – add to a bemusing array of contradictions within New Zealand in the 21st century.

Fair to say, some of his observations are open to challenge.  One person’s contradiction – you might argue – is another’s common sense.

Thus readers may agree that some – or many – items on the list are contradictions but not necessarily all.  

One of those consulted about the list illustrated this by proposing another contradiction:

It is not OK to allow terminally ill animals to suffer but it is OK to deny terminally ill, fully conscious adults, judged to be of sound mind and after careful consideration by two independent doctors, the option of ending their suffering.   Continue reading “Contradictory Kiwis – some ideas should fly while others are squashed”

The taxing issue of capital gains – and the prospect of hostility on the hustings

Reports  from  working groups undertaking  reviews  for the government   are  thudding  on  to   ministerial  desks – and several of them already are  stimulating the kind of backlash which  any  government  intent on protecting  its poll ratings  could  find  disturbing. 

In implementing their recommendations,  the  Ardern  coalition could write itself into  NZ’s  political  history as  reformist  as  the first  Labour   government  led by  Michael  Joseph Savage.  Then again, if  it  did have that ambition, it might nosedive as  rapidly  over the political cliff as   the David Lange   government did in  the late  1980s.

The education changes proposed  by the  Bali Haque-led review are stirring fury  among  principals and  trustees.  The reforms to  industrial  law  from the Jim Bolger-led panel, expected to give fresh powers to  trade unions in  wage bargaining, are  likely to  despatch  any good will the business community has entertained towards the Ardern  administration. 

But the one issue  which  will test  the nerve of   even the boldest in the Ardern   coalition  is  the  capital gains  tax  which the working  group chaired  by Sir Michael  Cullen  was set up  to  formulate.

No matter how it is framed by Sir Michael, one of the cleverest politicians  in  NZ’s  modern history, “expect to  see the debate go  nuclear”,  as  Liam  Dann in the  NZ  Herald  put it.    

Continue reading “The taxing issue of capital gains – and the prospect of hostility on the hustings”

Climate change and environmentalists – it’s time they gave the green light to GE science

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  has been  making waves  in  the  Swiss Alps,  we   are informed   by  Amanda  Larsson  of Greenpeace  NZ, writing  in the  Dominion-Post.  It’s  a feat   to command  worldwide attention.

Moreover, Larsson  believes  Ardern  quickly  emerged as a “star of the show”  at the World  Economic Forum and a  leader on climate change.

We  should be proud that, with the eyes of the world on us, we’re returning  to our rightful  place  on an issue of  great  moral fortitude”.

But, wait for it,

“ … before  we  bask too much, we  must  also turn our eyes closer to  home  and make sure   that  what  we’re doing to tackle  climate change matches our  bold global  stance”. Continue reading “Climate change and environmentalists – it’s time they gave the green light to GE science”

1000 KiwiBuild homes by July – Peters (hurrah!) is intent on getting things back on track

Readers considering taking a punt at the TAB on the proposition the government will reach its various KiwiBuild targets may be confused about what odds they should take.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford this week said he is “pretty gutted” about the rate of progress and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government is still building affordable houses – “just not as fast as we want and as many as what we want as quickly as we want.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, on the other hand, said the Government would still be able to get to its 1000 KiwiBuild homes target by July – “I believe so, yes.”  He happens to be Minister of Racing

Prospective punters in need of a form guide should consult the latest official progress report. Continue reading “1000 KiwiBuild homes by July – Peters (hurrah!) is intent on getting things back on track”

New Conservatives are refreshed – and optimistic – after winning 0.2% of the party vote in 2017

We were reminded today of the minor parties and their role in our political system  by a press release headed New Conservative – from Strength to Strength.

The announcement of two new board members, David Moffett and Casey Costello, would make New Conservative a serious contender in the 2020 election, chairman Simon Gutschlag declared .

“With the growing success we are seeing, our Board has been keen to add specific skills that will be necessary to take the Party forward towards the next election,” says New Conservative Board Chairman, Simon Gutschlag.

“The 2020 General Election is likely to be the most crucial election in NZ politics for the past 30 years. We will fight for every New Zealander, not just those that support us, and we will do that with a highly skilled, energetic and professional team, dedicated to putting people at the heart of every policy and decision.”

The press statement includes brief notes on both new board members. Continue reading “New Conservatives are refreshed – and optimistic – after winning 0.2% of the party vote in 2017”

It’s highly unlikely the first KiwiBuild target will be met – but this doesn’t mean it has been abandoned

Some people were listening closely to Housing Minister Phil Twyford on RNZ’s Morning Report, when he said he couldn’t guarantee his signature KiwiBuild policy will meet its first deadline – 1000 homes built by July 1.

Twyford’s reluctance to guarantee the target represents a significant backdown for the Minister on the policy to build 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years.

And right there a good interviewer had material for robust follow-up questioning.

But RNZ’s Guyon Espiner, the Morning Report co-host, turned a failure to guarantee the target would be met into an assertion the target had been abandoned – an assertion he repeated even when the hapless Twyford insisted he hadn’t abandoned it.

This was a distortion of the sort that  spawns fake news.

Continue reading “It’s highly unlikely the first KiwiBuild target will be met – but this doesn’t mean it has been abandoned”

The Trough Monitor: Megan Woods finds more than $11m for dispensing energy favours

Whether congratulations are in order is a moot point, but today a Minister of the Crown triggered the Point of Order  Trough Monitor for the first time this year.

The Minister was Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods, who not only has tapped into several million dollars of taxpayers’ money – she has also brayed about it:

Low emission transport will receive a record boost totalling more than $11 million, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced today.

Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: Megan Woods finds more than $11m for dispensing energy favours”