Working on thesis

This blog will be a bit quiet for a few weeks, I’ve got a thesis due in a fortnight and will be knuckling down to do that. If you want some good discussion in the meantime, keep an eye on Halfdone, New Zealand Conservative and Kiwi Polemicist.

Have fun without me!

Sir Roger Douglas’ economic plan

Now I won’t say I agree with every detail of his plan, but Douglas certainly seems to understand why we are in the mess we are in better than any other politician.

As voters, we seem to have bought the false notion that we can all be made wealthy through government. Elections have become an opportunity for politicians to promise they will take more money off you, only to give it back to you in another way – a gold card for superannuitants, a tax credit for working families, or an interest write off for students. If we each pretend that we can be made wealthy through taxing others, then we’re destined for poverty. We are increasingly relying on others – be they foreign lenders or domestic taxpayers – to sustain our way of life.

You don’t hear that sort of straight talking every day from politicians!

Douglas’ plan is to set up an alternative taxation system that you can opt into – with low taxes but you must pay for your own health care and superannuation – or you can stay in the current system. There would certainly be practical problems with maintaining two separate systems alongside each other (such as having some people eligable for state-funded healthcare while others are not), but it is an intriguing idea, and a good contrast with National’s plan. Read his full plan here.

On the tax side, he is proposing a tax-free threshold of $30,000 for individuals, $50,000 for families, and 15% taxation above that, with a flat 15% tax rate for business. That would really draw industry back into the country.

But there is a big “marriage tax” in there – note that if you have two single incomes your tax-free threshold is collectively $60,000, while if you marry it is now only $50,000 (plus a certain amount per child). It would be far better to have a $60,000 tax-free threshold for families, and not incentivise family breakdown. You should never subsidise something unless you want more of it.

On the welfare side, he is proposing:

To ensure that families are able to adequately provide for themselves, there will be a guaranteed minimum income for families. The guaranteed minimum income will ensure that, should they find themselves earning less than the tax-free threshold, families will receive a tax credit to boost their income.

The problem with this is that there is little incentive to work at all – it is unclear but reads like you have a guaranteed tax-free income of $50,000 (inflation adjusted to boot), which you can live on quite comfortably especially if you don’t have the expenses of having a job (fuel to get to work, work clothes etc). Even if you have to be doing some work to get it, there is little incentive to work more than a couple of hours a week. It is only for families, but if you don’t have to be married to call yourself a family it could be claimed by flatmates – this is far higher than the student allowance!

A guaranteed minimum income is a simple way of providing a welfare safety net, however having it set so high is likely to be a strong disincentive to work. Or you can work, and still get your free money. Consider this scenario.

  • You have no job, and are surviving on government handouts.
  • A farmer takes pity on your family, gives you free accommodation in a spare house, free use of a work vehicle and as much produce as you can eat.
  • Out of gratitude you “help him out” on the farm.

It’s a win-win situation:

  • You get almost all your expenses for free and pocket most of your welfare money, effectively earning far more than most farm workers.
  • The farmer gets a cheap worker.

It is impossible to completely avoid such fraud, but it would help if the “guaranteed minimum income” were set at a level of basic subsistence, to provide for those out of work while encouraging them to actually get a job. Requiring a couple to be married to qualify would help the money go to genuine families, although people could marry just to get the cash. Giving part of it in food or accommodation vouchers would help to discourage fraud, although not prevent it. It would also help if you only lost 50c of your tax credits for every dollar you earned – meaning even if you can only get a part-time job you will still end up with more cash in the hand, rather than working hard and ending up with the same pay as if you did nothing.

So Douglas’ plan needs some work, in my opinion. But it offers a good alternative perspective to National’s current big spending plans, and I hope Key is willing to listen and incorporate some of Douglas’ ideas.

Anti-Christian discrimination in Britain

“Foster mother struck off for letting Muslim girl convert to Christianity”

If you thought religious discrimination was getting bad in Britain, it’s just got a whole lot worse:

A foster mother has been struck off the register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity…. Although she is a practising Anglican, she said she had put no pressure on the girl who was baptised last year at the age of 16. She said social workers had also raised no objections to her own attendance at church.

But officials insist she failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have tried to stop the baptism.

Last April, they ruled that the girl, now 17, should stay away from church for six months. …

Mike Judge, a spokesman for [the Christian Institute], said: ‘All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. ‘That surely must be a core human right in any free society.

‘I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain.

So the local government officials have:
- Forbidden a Christian from attending church.
- Punished a woman for allowing someone to change their religion (how on earth do you stop a 16 year old from changing their religion anyway?).

That is government suppression of freedom of religion, as practiced under communism and Islamic law. It has no place in either a Christian or a secular country.

Prepare for an influx of (still more) British migrants, fleeing Islam. Hopefully we can resist the same sick policies here.

Muslims cause global warming

Yes, you read it right. We’re all going to drown from sea level rise because of those dratted Muslims having so many kids.

Sir Jonathan Porritt, the British government’s “Green adviser”, has stated in The Times that “having more than two children is irresponsible”, and:

“… the government must improve family planning, even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion.”

But hang on a minute, who is having all those extra children in Britain? The Times has the answer to that too:

“The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.
The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.
Experts said that the increase was attributable to immigration, a higher birthrate and conversions to Islam during the period of 2004-2008, when the data was gathered.”

In fact, the Daily Mail reports that Western women in the EU have 1.4 children on average, while Muslim women have 3.5! The Muslim birth rate in Britain is “roughly three times higher than the non-Muslim one” according to the Sunday Express.

But does anyone expect to see the environmentalists start taking on the Muslims? Fat chance. The same people will go on about lowering birth rates in one sentence and embracing multiculturalism in the next. In so doing they help Islam take over the West, by depressing still further the birth rate of the Westerners (who will listen to them but already have less than 2 children on average), and ignoring the Muslim population boom.

Porritt himself is dragging the birth rate up – he has 2 children, and the average in Britain is 1.87 – so the hypocrite is actually part of the problem he’s so upset about.

Anyway, if the birth rate is already below 2, what is the problem? Has he just invented it? Surely not… Most people believe the British birth rate actually needs to increase to sustain the economy, as it is already too low.

No, the Muslims won’t listen to Porritt’s hypocritical nonsense, and why should they? I vote we outbreed them instead. And that will take some doing considering many are polygamists. Where’s that wife of mine…

Hat tips: Contra Celsum and The Bible and Society

The big Biblical bailout of Egypt

With all the economic problems around the world today, and governments everywhere printing money to bail out (ie buy up) banks and other companies, it is easy to forget that this has a very strong precedent in the Bible.

Consider the account of Joseph, who was at the time Prime Minister (or equivalent) of Egypt (the Pharaoh’s second in command). Joseph knew through a prophetic dream that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. He collected grain during the seven years of plenty and stored it (Genesis 41:37-49). When the years of famine came, he opened the storehouses to feed the people (Genesis 41:53-57).

But note that he didn’t just give the food away – he sold it. (Genesis 47:13-26) In fact, “Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought.” (v14). Once the people had no money left, Joseph bought their livestock (v17), their land (v20), and the people themselves (v21).

Joseph bailed out the entire land of Egypt from their crisis, nationalising the entire agricultural industry – as Pharaoh owned the land, the livestock, and even the people.

Having nationalised the industry, he imposed a 20% tax on all produce (v23-26), which was Pharaoh’s return on his investment.

Isn’t the similarity to today incredible? But there is one big difference:

Joseph bought everything using real assets (grain) that he had saved.

Today, governments may try to buy out industry. But they are doing so using money they have fabricated from thin air, or borrowed, or taken from taxpayers.

What Joseph did was legitimate trading of real, saved assets, not the juggling of funny money. Furthermore he saved many people from starving to death.

But governments today may, just to save people from dropping their living standards a bit, use funny money to achieve exactly what he did – state control of industry. While being encouraged by most people. It is worrying that so many people are so keen to sacrifice their freedom for temporary financial gain.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

One law for all day

Rather than doing my own detailed Waitangi Day post, I’ll recommend Peter Cresswell’s post, as he has written it far better than I could (bar his proposal of a new constitution, which I believe is unnecessary).

If you really want to know what Waitangi Day is about, read the treaty. Too many people go on about racist concepts they have invented, ignoring that the Treaty actually says:

In return for the cession of the Sovreignty to the Queen, the people of New Zealand shall be protected by the Queen of England and the rights and privileges of British subjects will be granted to them.

The Maori version is even more explicit

Hei wakaritenga mai hoki tenei mo te wakaaetanga ki te Kawanatanga o te Kuini-Ka tiakina e te Kuini o Ingarani nga tangata Maori; katoa o Nu Tirani ka tukua ki a ratou nga tikanga katoa rite tahi ki ana mea ki nga tangata o Ingarani.

Literally: This is an arrangement for the consent to the Government of the Queen. The Queen of England will protect all the Maoris of New Zealand. All the rights will be given to them the same as her doings to the people of England.

The treaty established one law for all. That is what we should be remembering and celebrating today, the end of tribal warfare and slavery, and the institution of equal rights for all – the legal framework that has given us the country we enjoy today.

EDIT: See also my post on flying a Maori flag on Waitangi day

Let’s eat some dogs

Campbell Live had a slot tonight about dogs being stolen, mistreated and killed for human consumption in the Phillipines. They profiled Elly Maynard working with Sirius and the Animal Kingdom Foundation trying to help the dogs – and considering the conditions the dogs were in, good on them.

However, the main thing that Elly Maynard was saying was “Dogs are not for human consumption”. Her primary motivation did not seem to be preventing suffering (although she was obviously very concerned about that), but that eating dog or cat meat was intrinsically wrong.

But why?

Why should dogs (or cats, or whales) be considered cuddly and cute animals that we cannot eat, when sheep, cows, pigs etc are fair game?

It isn’t intelligence – pigs may be more intelligent than dogs, yet we eat them. It isn’t diet, for we eat plenty of carnivorous fish, while pigs and chickens are omnivores and we eat them, and dogs can live on a vegetarian diet. It isn’t Biblical statements about what food is ok, because modern society rejects the Bible and even most Christians believe the Jewish food laws no longer apply. It cannot be disease, for although you can catch rabies from eating a stray dog that should be no problem if they were farmed.

It can only be the Western perception of cats and dogs as pets (as that is the role we have grown up with them as), and sheep and cattle as meat.

So who is a New Zealand animal lover to tell the Filipinos they cannot eat dog, provided they farm and kill them humanely? If Hindu Indians were to come here and say we can’t eat beef we wouldn’t stand for it, so why do we tolerate Westerners trying to force their views on other cultures?

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Have any of you tasted dog?

John Key attacked at Waitangi

I have absolutely no respect for someone who thinks physically attacking the Prime Minister is a sensible way of getting their views across. Do these people really want to be taken seriously or not?

There seem to be many Maori who think Waitangi is a Maori event, and the rest of the country (such as the Prime Minister) only get to have anything to do with it with their leave. But that is nonsense. The Treaty of Waitangi was between Maori and the Crown, representing British settlers (at the time). It is as much a European thing as it is a Maori thing, and it is something for us all to celebrate. That anyone would think they can do what they like on Waitangi because this is about “their” race is disgraceful.

I hope Mr Key finds out what group these men are associated with and formally refuses to have any dealings with them in future, dealing with other Maori representatives instead. And I hope they are prosecuted for assault to the full extent of the law.

Yes there are real concerns held by many Maori, and issues that they would like Mr Key to address. But this is no way to encourage him to address them.

EDIT: See also
“One Law For All day”

“Maori flag on Waitangi day”

RMA reform – the good, the bad, and the ugly

National’s proposed RMA reforms have been released. The official summary is on Scoop. There’s some good in there and some bad. Reform of the RMA is certainly needed, it’s a horribly bloated piece of legislation. A few things that jump out are:

Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections
Good idea to get rid of anti-competitive objections. But what is “frivolous” or “vexatious”? Those words could mean anything. In practice this means:

  • Allowing the Environment Court to require security for costs.
  • Increasing the fee to appeal to the Environment court from $55 to $500.

Basically they are saying that any appeal from someone who is too poor to afford $500 plus an unspecified security deposit (could be thousands) is “frivolous”, and anyone who can afford that is not. This allows the wealthy greater access to justice than the poor and community organisations, and is a very bad move in my mind.

Streamlining decision making

  • This involves creating an Environmental Protection Agency (ie more bureaucracy) to determine whether a project is of national significance or not and push it through.
    I have no problem with streamlining things, but do we really need more bureaucrats to do less bureaucracy? Surely if it were streamlined we would need fewer bureaucrats?
  • Projects that are not of national significance can be sent directly to the Environment Court without the need to go through the local authority consenting process first.
    I understand the reason behind this. Currently our community is fighting the CPW irrigation scheme, and many organisations have spent thousands fighting the consents process knowing they will end up in the environment court anyway so their money is being wasted. But we need provision for one hearing, and one appeal. If the one E.Court hearing is the final decision, there is no backup if the first decision is faulty.

Minor changes to speed things up

  • Removing the ability for appellants to make general challenges or ones that seek the withdrawal of entire proposed policy statements and plans. But what if you have genuine concerns about the entire proposal?
  • Simplifying the process so that local authority decisions on submissions do not need to be made in respect of each individual submission but are to be made according to issues raised. Very sensible.
  • If consents are processed late, the fee must be discounted. Sounds like they were reading Family Party policy regarding building consents – this is a great idea. Can we have it for building consents too?
  • Allow local authorities to take enforcement action against the Crown. Also good.

So all up there is a lot to help push through big projects, a few things to help people with minor applications, and a definite bias against objectors regardless of whether their complaint is valid.

And still NO mention of private property rights ANYWHERE.

On average it may be more positive than negative, but there is a lot in there to be very concerned about. If they would only affirm common law private property rights they could throw away most of the RMA, just keeping a few bits that genuinely relate to Resource Management – such as permits for water abstraction etc. But unfortunately NZ elected a bunch of politicians who don’t have the guts to do that.

Other views:

Not PC thinks National is paving the way for Think Big 2.0

I am embarrassed to admit I actually agree with Russel Norman (Green Party):

However, increasing the filing fees for Environment Court cases and the requirement for security of costs will silence legitimate public input into local decision making. … How many community groups, made up of regular citizens, not millionaires, can come up with tens of thousands of dollars in security when they are trying to protect a coastal area from a property speculator?

Federated Farmers calls it “an ok first stab”, but has some concerns:

Some farmers will be dubious about changes that are aimed at streamlining projects of national significance and improving national instruments, without strengthening the rights of individuals to receive compensation.

Remember the Bill will be introduced later this month and open for public submissions.

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