Monday, November 30, 2009

The problem is, indeed, politicians

Yesterday I commented on one of Gooner's posts:

I don't for a moment imagine Brash is a fool, I just expect on the basis of previous experience that, like Douglas, he'll seize whatever opportunity is currently in front of him to promote his ideology.

Maybe Brash will prove me wrong and actually do the job that's been assigned to him, but my expectation is that the "productivity taskforce" will have little to say about productivity and a lot to say about the tax system.

This morning, I see the taskforce's report has been leaked, and the contents are about cutting taxes and universal welfare entitlements (except presumably Superannuation, which is paid to a lot of the govt's supporters), ie the report promotes Brash's ideology and has little to say about productivity but a lot to say about the tax system.

The Dim Post puts it like this:

The task-force was negotiated by the ACT Party in their coalition deal with National. Finding out that Dr Brash likes tax cuts has cost taxpayers about half a million dollars.

Yes, it has. And if a dim bulb like me knew the outcome was a foregone conclusion and that it would consist of ideologically-based propaganda, so presumably did everyone involved with setting it up. Once upon a time (and doesn't it seem a long time ago now?), Rodney Hide and his party were very big on getting rid of perqs and not wasting taxpayers' money - how things change once you get your arses on the govt benches, eh?

It'll be interesting to see what the next Labour govt can come up with to top this. Perhaps a productivity taskforce led by Michael Cullen that comes back and tells us it's vital to increase taxes and welfare?

42 comments:

Danyl said...

except presumably Superannuation, which is paid to a lot of the govt's supporters

Actually, Brash wants to cash up the Cullen fund, which would make it impossible for the government to meet it's superannuation committments.

I don't think this was like asking Cullen for advice, I think this was like asking Kieth Locke or John Minto for recommendations.

Hamish Collins said...

Thats a little unfair Danyl.
What if the net effect of the cashing up of the Cullen Fund was to accelerate more people into Kiwisaver, through increased incentives (paid for out of the Cullen Fund).

Surely that would be a good thing?

I'm no fan of Dr Cullen, but I will freely admit that 20-30 years from now, Kiwisaver will be held up as a trophy of the Clark Government.

ou812 said...

Yes, for all the productivity advice you require, go to the lab technician and the guy who works in a library.

(Presumably both are taxpayer/ratepayer funded employees)

Anonymous said...

"Yes, for all the productivity advice you require, go to the lab technician and the guy who works in a library."

We have a logician in out midst! (or perhaps an unemployed comedian)

Judge Holden

Gooner said...

Kiwisaver is a brilliant concept and has a fan in John Boscaqwen, an ACT MP if you didn't notice. I agree with Hamish - it will be a trophy of Cullen in 20 or 30 years.

Time for some other good ideas top save us from ourselves - like less government spending and less tax so we can actually decide how to spend our money ourselves.

erikter said...

You can confidently predict Bill English will ignore the recommendations.

His boss, lazy Key, couldn't care less as long as he has not to make any decisions.

Psycho Milt said...

Yes, for all the productivity advice you require, go to the lab technician and the guy who works in a library.

You're kidding me - argument from authority is the best you've got?

(Presumably both are taxpayer/ratepayer funded employees)

So we oppose tax cuts out of self-interest? Not so: I'm paying the top tax rate, so Brash's prescription would benefit me financially. I'm picking that you, on the other hand, really do have self-interest behind your position.

Anonymous said...

What ever the arguments, one that won't stand up is to carry on the polices of the last 15-20 years. They haven't worked. We have gone backwards.
Which is why I am critical of John Key. He is just following on from that before him. No major change in policy really
We will continue to slip backwards

David

ZenTiger said...

You're kidding me - argument from authority is the best you've got?

Well, your argument is based entirely on the same premise - "dismiss the ex head of the Reserve Bank because he learned stuff in his job that gives him an ideology."

And you cherry pick the tax element from the report. It covers much more than that.

ZenTiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

So Brash has ideology whereas you wanted ideas? Productivity means using resources for the best output. Lifestyle welfare diminishes NZ's potential labour resource. WFF diminishes it. Income tax diminishes it. That's what Brash believes. Are you going to tell us that each of those things improves productivity?

muz said...

And our feerless MSM will go to the usual coterie of troughers for comment on the Brash report who depend on government money to live their useless lives and there will be a very loud silence from anyone coping with red tape, high tax compliance costs, restrictive employment law and other hand brake restrictions on wealth creation that retard this nations future. Already I have heard Mr G Morgan being negative about the prospects of getting any closing with Australia although he did admit he had not read the said report, tosser. What a pity he did not have the balls to say he would wait until he had read it before taking the opportunity to massage his pathetic ego. The biggest thing between his legs is when he Mounts his Harley.

Anonymous said...


Actually, Brash wants to cash up the Cullen fund, which would make it impossible for the government to meet it's superannuation committments.


Excellent. Superannuation is just dole for the old.

It should be abolished with no compensation like every other form of dole.


As far as I'm concerned, everybody over 30 - certainly everyone over 40 who was around for Douglas in 1985 and Ruth in 1991 Know that superannuation, the Dole, the DPB, state socialist health, state socialist education and all the rest are unsustainable

If they don't love their familes, their parents, and their children to make fully private provision for
all their health and education and security and instance needs then it's not our fucking fault

But to continue with state provision hugely penalizes those who care enough to look after their families. Which is why Brash is right - the who pile of steaming socialist crap should just be stopped, right now, by any means necessary.

Psycho Milt said...

Well, your argument is based entirely on the same premise - "dismiss the ex head of the Reserve Bank because he learned stuff in his job that gives him an ideology."

No, my argument is that only morons or people with an ulterior motive would put such an idealogue in charge of a half-million dollar taskforce. No matter what submissions are made to the taskforce, the result will reflect only its leader's ideology. This was clear from the start and therefore the entire taskforce was money down the toilet.

And you cherry pick the tax element from the report. It covers much more than that.

If any cherry-picking was done, it was done by the TVNZ journos who saw the leaked report and whose account of it I've linked to. There is of course a chance the journos were cherry-picking the contents, that it does actually address productivity and I'll get a spanking when the report is released today, but I can't say I'm quaking in my boots.

Productivity means using resources for the best output.

Productivity has quite specific meanings, relating to the output per input unit of capital equipment and labour. Tax and welfare policies can have an influence on those things, but what influence is arguable. More important for NZ's woeful productivity gap with Australia is capital shallowness resulting from things like decreased unionisation resulting in lower wages, tax structures that encourage property speculation over productive investment, and poor regulation of the finance industry and sharemarket so that people foolish enough to invest in NZ businesses can expect to have their money stolen. I'll be interested to see what Brash has to say about those - if anything.

ou812 said...

"I'm picking that you, on the other hand, really do have self-interest behind your position."

You've got no choice but to support high taxes and large government because that's how you (and the lab technician) are employed and paid. So in a sense you are acting out of self-interest too.

Anonymous said...

Instead of criticising an idealogy why not have a look at the ideas? Like, do they work?

What we have now is not working. If we keep doing what we are doing we will keep getting what we've been getting.

I don't see your statement that decreased unionism leading to lower wages being anything except nonsense. As a small business owner I am constantly paying others their wages and often taking none myself. Having a union drone demand more would simply make me say AMF to the whole damned enterprise and sell up for capital gain. The chip on the shoulder attitude towards employers is counter-productive.

George

Anonymous said...

I'm in the top tax bracket and there is a shortage of people doing what I do. I earn approximately $40k pa/day worked. I'm about to chuck up 1 day a week of work. I don't look at it as if I'm loosing 40k, but as if I'm loosing 26k. That makes it a lot easier for me to justify my earning reduction for a better lifestyle. In other words 'high taxes are a reason that I'm happy to be less productive' - and the service I provide to the public will be sorely missed.

Psycho Milt said...

You've got no choice but to support high taxes and large government because that's how you (and the lab technician) are employed and paid. So in a sense you are acting out of self-interest too.

So, if there were lower taxes and targeted welfare universities would stop carrying out research and make their researchers and support staff redundant? Well, life is full of surprises so who knows really - but I'm not convinced.

I don't see your statement that decreased unionism leading to lower wages being anything except nonsense.

Well, if we're rating the Reserve Bank as experts on this thread, here's what they said about it to Brash's taskforce:

"Moreover, for much of the
period [mid-1980s to early 1990s - PM] real wage growth was relatively subdued, making
it attractive to firms to emphasise adding additional labour
rather than additional capital."

What "subdued" that wage growth?

WAKE UP said...

"I don't for a moment imagine Brash is a fool, I just expect on the basis of previous experience that, like Douglas, he'll seize whatever opportunity is currently in front of him to promote his ideology."...you know, MILT, I just knew that was your post without looking further :) Ahh, "ideology"...a useful word, that - almost as useful as "racist". One man's well-thought out position is another man's "ideology"; one man's criticism is another man's "racism". Could we please just debate the facts?

Anonymous said...

Of course the psycho fellow was always going to say he wants a few of us to support him and his ilk.

No news here, move along.

ZenTiger said...

No, my argument is that only morons or people with an ulterior motive would put such an idealogue in charge of a half-million dollar taskforce.

Nah, your argument still amounts to the same thing.

No matter what submissions are made to the taskforce, the result will reflect only its leader's ideology. This was clear from the start and therefore the entire taskforce was money down the toilet.

Yeah, that's always possible. Like running a referendum and ignoring an 88% result.

Or rushing legislation through under urgency and not allowing re-submisisons that aren't listened to anyway (like Labour with the EFA and National with ETS)

With Labour and National government, all we are seeing is that the government ploughs on ahead anyway and the party in power is almost irrelevant. It's very weird.

Anonymous said...

if there were lower taxes and targeted welfare universities would stop carrying out research and make their researchers and support staff redundant?

yep, which part of "NZ is a bankrupt borderline third-world economy of only 4 million people" don't you understand?

If people want university education, that's what Australia is for. It would be far cheaper for NZ to pay full overseas fees for the 1000-odd university educated people NZ really needs each year that to think we can keep NZ's socialist "universities" up and running on my fucking tax dollars

Like Brash says: close them down like every other socialist boondoggle in NZ!

Psycho Milt said...

One man's well-thought out position is another man's "ideology"; one man's criticism is another man's "racism". Could we please just debate the facts?

If Labour were to adopt Danyl's comparison and put Keith Locke or John Minto in charge of a productivity taskforce, I doubt you'd have any difficulty spotting the ideologue, Wake Up. Thanks for pointing out the importance of debating the facts though, it's helpful. One of the marks of the ideologue is that no matter the nature of the facts presented, his response will be to peddle his pet theory. Brash's report's released today - let's have a look through it, compare it against the original ToR and the submissions that were made, and see whether it debates the facts or peddles its authors pet theory. My money's on "pet theory."

Nah, your argument still amounts to the same thing.

Unlike ou812, I made no appeal to authority. You could maybe get me on ad hominem, but given that there is evidence for Brash peddling the same pet theory regardless of the situation, there's a reasonable case for calling him an ideologe. I suspect he's about to make an even better case for it today.

If people want university education, that's what Australia is for.

Yeah, it's that confidence in and ambition for your country that makes everyone respond so warmly to you, Sinner...

Anonymous said...

Just reading the Brash report now.

The most accurate assessment is New Zealand: the next Iceland

Just where is that 250Million PER week coming from Psycho?

The mathematical facts of the matter are simply that Labour and Hellen fucked over the country. We are now much worse off than we were in 1991 - and we need even more urgent policies to recover the economy than Ruth established in '91.

Anonymous said...

Psycho - which part of:

For a long time, New Zealand
was one of the richest countries on earth. But that time is now far in the past, and in the intervening
decades so many of our people have left for better prospects abroad...

The great exodus of New Zealanders seems not to be sufficiently recognised as a mark
of serious and sustained failure as a country




don't you understsand?

Psycho Milt said...

Just read the summary myself - as expected, it's basically a political promo for ACT. Can I have my share of the half a mil back, please?

Socrates said...

"One man's well-thought out position is another man's "ideology" ... Could we please just debate the facts?"

Ok, so if two people look at the same facts and come to different and opposite conclusions, is one putting forwards a "well-thought out position" and the other an ideological position? And how do you tell the difference? Or are both putting forward “well-thought out positions”?

ou812 said...

"Can I have my share of the half a mil back, please?"

. . As you were once happy to give yourself a voluntary, dole sponsored holiday in Christchurch (and still feel no shame about it to this day) . . consider the balance partially repaid.

Anonymous said...


Ok, so if two people look at the same facts and come to different and opposite conclusions, is one putting forwards a "well-thought out position" and the other an ideological position? And how do you tell the difference? Or are both putting forward “well-thought out positions”?


Nope. It is a simple fact that NZ is a serious and sustained failure as a country. Anyone capable of basic arithmetic can understand that FACT. Anyone who denies that fact is as self-deluding as someone who believes the earth is flat and should be treated with exactly the same contempt and distain.

In particular, they should certainly not be allowed to vote. (Clause 80 (1) of the electoral act already gives courts the discretion to rule on these cases:
those rulings should just be applied more liberally)

Now the question is: how do we fix $250 million a week? This report is a start, but only a very slow and timid start!

Heine said...

I am very comfortable for Milt to stay within the top tax bracket if he chooses to do so. We'll just shift it down the for the rest of us and you won't feel guilty :)

KG said...

"If people want university education, that's what Australia is for."
PM's response:
"Yeah, it's that confidence in and ambition for your country that makes everyone respond so warmly to you, Sinner..."

You just don't get it do you, Milt? It's got damn all to do with confidence and ambition--New Zealand can't afford it!
Fucking arts graduates aren't going to pull this country out of the mire.

Psycho Milt said...

OK, you and Sinner have found a way to make Brash look sensible - congratulations.

KG said...

Brash is sensible--it's not his fault Kiwis are largely a bunch of compliant cowardly socialist sheep.

And are you arguing (your lame response makes it difficult to tell) that NZ can afford the university system we have at present?

Psycho Milt said...

It seemed too foolish to warrant a serious response - but as you've asked:

I could sit here all day writing down my complaints about the way tertiary ed is funded in NZ, high among them the bribing of middle class voters with interest-free student loans, as practiced by both major parties. Indeed we can't afford to continue forking out for students' cars, gadgets and alcohol and calling it "higher education spending," but that's not really what's under discussion here.

What Sinner came up with was a blunt statement that NZ can't afford universities and anyone wanting tertiary education should be made to go to Australia for it. It's typical of Sinner's usual Planet Fruitloop pronouncements and as such didn't deserve or receive a serious response. If you're backing his contention, I'd like to know on what basis you're doing so - you don't seem to share his obvious mental instability.

KG said...

Well, I agree that's not really what's under discussion here, but the fact remains we can't afford the current university system, at least not the way it's funded right now.
And using Oz universities may in fact be a more cost-effective way of giving Kiwis access to (useful) higher education.
The useless part-and that means all the arts and sociology etc feelgood stuff- could be privately run and funded right here at home.

Psycho Milt said...

When you say "We can't afford..." what you're really saying is "I don't like..." They're not actually synonymous.

Danyl said...

Here's a list of New Zealand graduate degrees by specialisation in 2006:

Business and Management 2,790 10.8%
Teacher Education 2,130 8.2%
Sales and Marketing 2,000 7.7%
Studies in Human Society 1,650 6.4%
Accountancy 1,560 6.0%
Banking, Finance and Related Fields 1,430 5.5%
Nursing 1,430 5.5%
Law 1,410 5.5%
Language and Literature 1,280 5.0%
Biological Sciences 1,270 4.9%

Two of those types fall into the category of 'useless arts degrees', making up just over 10% of graduates, the other 90% is stuff like nursing, law, teaching, management etc, ie the people who most of the nation's wealth and provide the services you need to have a modern nation state.

Anonymous said...

Dim stop placingfacts into the debate. You should know better than that.

Besides you need to increase your figure up to at least 20% because teacherds don't count, nor do biological sciences, as productive.

Actually maybe 30% as marketing isn't productive. O and add lawyers, as they don'r produce anythng except hot air.

Business students are useless drones, so don't count them either.

KG said...

" When you say "We can't afford..." what you're really saying is "I don't like..."

Thanks for telling me what I'm really saying Milt--I dunno how I've survived (quite successfully) all these years without having you as an interpreter.

Psycho Milt said...

How else am I to interpret your comments? NZ quite obviously can afford universities and has afforded them since the 19th Century, when it was much more sparsely populated and less wealthy than it is now. It's hardly likely you're ignorant of that fact, so the logical conclusion is that by "We can't afford..." you mean "I don't want to help pay for..." In what sense is that not true?

Sinner said...

NZ quite obviously can afford universities and has afforded them since the 19th Century

Not true. Until well after WWII, all tertiary education was privately funded, and only a few thousand people went to uni,

Now Auckland takes in 50,000 "students", making it among the largest universities in the world.

Now we are flushing $250 mil (or actually latest figures says $400 mil, 250 is what they hope to get to mid-next year) down the toilet every week.

We can't afford "universities".
We can't afford "state schools"
We can't afford "state hospitals"
We absolutely cannot afford benefits, WFFers, codger-bludgers (on the Super, just another benefit), ACC, SOEs, KiwiBank, KiwiRail, and all the other accoutrements of a socialist state.

Psycho Milt said...

In other words, like KG your complaint isn't that we can't afford universities, it's that you'd prefer them not to be publicly funded.