Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Yes we canny

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  • Terence W,

    55% so now about half, rather than 2/3ds, and this is only for income tax (not GST), but thanks for the partial correction.

    The table is interesting too - it suggests that if we were to emulate Australia and add a new top tax band at $150,000 we could generate considerable extra tax revenue.

    Labour mobility in health is certainly an issue, but it stems from gross wages as much as net and how are we going to pay these salaries if we don't have tax revenue?

    As for the great plumber shortage - can you provide me with any evidence that plumbers are leaving New Zealand at a faster rate than new ones are entering the labour market.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    The total number of permanent departures - 80,000 - is the highest since records began.

    Yes but our population has grown too. As a proportion of our total population the figure is no greater than it was in previous decades.

    Out of interest, do any of your statistics suggest that it is higher income and qualified New Zealanders (top tax bracket folks) driving these numbers or the unskilled and new entrants to the work force?

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Me: Permanent/long term departures are up 12% over last year
    Terence w: Yes__ but our population has grown too.__

    Okay, that's it. I'm outta here. Its been fun.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    The table is interesting too - it suggests that if we were to emulate Australia and add a new top tax band at $150,000 we could generate considerable extra tax revenue.

    And spend it on what? We've ploughed Billions of extra spending into a huge range of areas, and sadly in the eyes of a fairly significant chunk of the population, bugger all has actually changed. The underclass got bigger, the rich pricks certainly don't seem to feel like rich pricks, and politicians got to waste massive amounts of resources on some fairly hare-brained ideas....

    Doesn't sound like a particularly successful effort in many regards as far as I can see.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    Happy travels Danyl,

    If you can't accurately read what other people have written, or correctly represent it in your own posts then I'm inclined to agree: future discussions on this topic will be fruitless.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    AS,

    It's a pity that people feel that way. The underclass hasn't increased in proportion to our population, nor have they got worse off in an absolute sense.

    Teachers are paid more, as are doctors and nurses (seeing as we're talking about the brain drain). Primary health care fees have dropped significantly too. Most of our hospitals are recovering to some degree from a long period of under investment.

    And the sad fact of the matter is that, with an aging population and rising health costs in general, you need to spend more to stay in the same place.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Terence,

    Yep, teachers, doctors and nurses are paid more, which was overdue. Now when do we see some improvements in outcomes for the populace?

    earlier on, I pointed out that every year roughly a quarter of the population leave school with less than level 1 NCEA. Effectively this means they have no qualifications at all. A QUARTER. There has been a negligible improvement over time, but nothing as spectacular as the increases in teacher salaries... Some years ago the rhetoric from the teachers unions was that if they had better pay, they'd get better results in terms of outcomes of students. That rhetoric has been silent for quite some time now, and yet they took the money quite happily.

    I think doctors and nurses don't get paid what they are worth, and that should be fixed. By the same token, in the wider health area, I'd ask the question: at what point does making up for "under-investment" stop, and "funding black hole" start? How many more Billions being poured into health will it require to see the improvements that the population expect?

    You make a good point on the aging population thing, an issue that a significant chunk of the western world also faces, hence the fierce international competition for skilled migrants.

    At the end of the day, there is a finite population of skilled people, with the skills and expertise that we need to help us maintain a modern lifestyle, and we need to attract as many of them as possible. Is it really a good idea to penalise the ones we grow at home, often at great expense?

    Is telling them they should be glad to uncomplainingly give till it hurts, really much of an enticement for them to stay? Telling them to feel leave if they don't agree that they should, isn't going to do much to make them feel wanted either, is it?

    The point is that no-one in the top tax brackets objected to paying more in 99, because they actually thought it would address the problems facing NZ. It doesn't appear to have.

    The issue at the moment, seems to be that the population is of the view that this extra has been squandered, and the original issues are the same as before or worse. I think that is a fairly legitimate concern to have about govt expenditure.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    AS,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Education outcomes are improving, albeit too slowly. Do you have any suggestions about how we might speed this up and not spend more money in the area?

    With regards to health - I agree entirely about the need to pay doctors and nurses more. As for the black hole question - unfortunately, I fear the answer is an awful lot. As far as OECD countries go we're a low spender on health. To get a really good system like the French have we'll need to spend a lot, lot more (particularly given aging popn and new drug costs).

    As for taxing the wealthy until they hurt, I'm not suggesting punitive taxation, but maybe 44% say on income over $150,000. The wealthy cope with this burden in Australia ok. Also, there aren't a finite number of skilled people in the NZ workforce, new people enter the Labour market all the time and others up-skill, and only a small minority of them leave.

    The point is that no-one in the top tax brackets objected to paying more in 99, because they actually thought it would address the problems facing NZ. It doesn't appear to have.

    But people (BRT etc) did complain, right from the start. And the extra money has helped as I showed above. The trouble as I see it is that so much of our public discourse is dominated by media driven talk about tax cuts and very little about how spending might actually help.

    Remember decrepit social infrastructure will send people overseas as likely as tax rates will.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    The highest paid teacher (with a postgraduate degree and several years of experience) falls a couple of thousand dollars short of the Herald's 'modest income'.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Terence,

    I suspect we are talking past each other somewhat. What I've been trying (perhaps unsucessfully) to say is that the rate of improvement in outcomes has (in too many cases) been close to zero, whilst the cost has been massive.

    Putting this in a fairly cold context, at what point do people start seeing that their contribution to the country via their taxes is actually achieving what they were told it would?

    On the BRT thing, I think it is very important to decouple the BRT from this particular debate, this isn't about big rich corporates sitting in their boardrooms, this is more about normal people who have legitimate questions about what they might expect to get for their already fairly significant contrbutions to the country.

    The vast majority of those in the top bracket aren't the rich pricks, (the truly rich can afford accountants), the majority of the people in the top bracket are just boring old wage and salary earners who just have to suck it up when they get slapped with another cost.

    In terms of solutions, that will take a lot of work, and a willingness to look at alternative solutions that the education ministry and schools have never been willing to look at. Various models have shown promise over time (e.g. acadamies, marae-based education, various alternative ed models), but have struggled and iin many cases, died due to the attitudes of the education sector who beleive that they are the only ones who should have a say on education.

    Until these sorts of attitudes shift, nothing will change in terms of outcomes, but the costs to get the same crap outcomes will continue to climb.

    The decrepit infrastructure point may be valid, but if there isn't anyone to run and maintain the infrastructure, you end up in the same position. It requires both.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    Hi AS,

    Thanks for your comments. I'm at work now, and the only thing likely to make me more grumpy than working on Sunday is not achieving anything because I was too busy arguing in PA System. So I'll keep things short and make this my last comment :)

    With regards to education, this isn't an field I'm at all knowledgeable about so I'll defer to your experience while still remaining somewhat sceptical of arguments which suggest that real solutions won't require real money.

    And I agree with you that the majority of people in the top tax bracket are merely wealthy (vis a vis median income) as opposed to super wealthy. That's why my preferred solution to increase progressivity is a new bracket somewhere over 100K.

    As for the BRT: the thing is that they (or at least their ideological fellow travelers) have, with the help of our daily papers they driven the debate on tax cuts - at least as I see it. While, at the same time, improvements in services (and in health they most definitely exist) get minimal mention in our public discourse.

    If, fully informed, the NZ public chooses tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, over more spending then so be it. I just wish we could have a slightly more informed debate.

    Ok - off to work.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    income splitting is under consultation at the moment: personally I think children should come with a tax allowance that can be allocated to one or both parents as long as they live with them. We could wind back a chunk of WFF if we had it.

    According to the latest NBR, Helen Clark has dismissed the idea already, saying that their concern is for people on low and modest incomes. All very nice in an election year but disappointing that she should dismiss the report 2 days after the IRD released it.
    For people who don't know what income splitting is (and I hadn't given it a thought until I saw the NBR article - pg 21, May 23 '08) it means couples can split their combined incomes and the pay tax on that amount. Which means if one partner earns $70k and the other stays home and earns nothing they'd both be taxed at the $35k rate. Under current tax rates this would leave the couple paying $5k less in tax.
    It's interesting that if a couple splits the assets and income are combined and each party gets a 50/50 split in the eyes of the law. But under current tax law a married couple are considered separate and each person is taxed individually.
    Income splitting would make it easier for couples to decide whether its worth someone staying home to raise the children (and/or possibly working part time). Slarty has raised the idea of adding dependent children into the mix, which I think is a good one, although I worry it will muddy the waters.

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Putting this in a fairly cold context, at what point do people start seeing that their contribution to the country via their taxes is actually achieving what they were told it would?

    and I keep wondering, at what point do people start seeing that their contribution to the country via their taxes is actually achieving what they were told the government was trying to fix.I often notice friends who have the view that they are missing out, are indeed rather comfortable(with the home, bach, boat , brand new cars...not exaggerating here).Life is so hard on the brioche line.I noticed with experiencing the public health system that I got big bang for my money.Even the IRD helped me! I sent a card of appreciation and was informed that that had never happened before.My convoluted point is ,all systems were in place to assist me in recovery and I was happy to be in NZ not the States where most of my relatives are.

    On the BRT thing, I think it is very important to decouple the BRT from this particular debate, this isn't about big rich corporates sitting in their boardrooms,

    Or hummering around their private islands with their knighthood.I always find it difficult to set the BRT aside from debates considering how powerful a lobby group they are.And... yes so can the unions be, but ,remember Labour is a party for the working class so rights for the worker sorta go hand in hand. I ask. When should Labour have fixed everything? Is there a time limit?I know this isn't a perfect country (show me one that is) but I think we are ok.
    Also went to Oz for 11 years once, came home.There is something special about NZ. Oz can never have that.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6269 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    hmmmm, yes, education spending in NZ.

    Average class sizes in secondary schools of high 20s compared to low 20s throughout Europe. British teachers campaigning for a maximum class size of 20 while we put up with an average of 26. Meanwhile my school is so broke it's closer to 28 with my own average at 30 (which is the average for Mexico) and my Year 13 class at 32.

    I have also heard a wonderful rumour that teachers pay relative to what it was twenty years ago had declined by 35% but I just hope that's not the case.

    My BA, MA and post-grad diploma + 2.5 years experience (along with 4 overseas) currently gets me 53,000 and leaves me entitled to a community services card.

    But back on education spending, an article by John Braddock in 2005, a while ago now but jack has changed...
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/mar2005/newz-m10.shtml

    Government spokesmen claim a steady increase in overall education spending—up 13 percent in real terms since 1999—as a major step forward. As a percentage of total government expenditure, spending on education has risen from 14.4 percent a decade ago to 17.3 percent last year. These figures are misleading, however. Over the past five years, Labour has kept a lid on spending to ensure record budget surpluses—this year’s is forecast at $NZ7.4 billion. Education spending as a percentage of GDP has in fact declined over the period from 6.3 percent to 5.9 per cent.

    "Specific cases include Macleans College in the affluent Auckland suburb of Howick, which raises 48 percent of its operating budget from non-government sources, including parents’ fees and charges levied on 105 foreign fee-paying students. "

    I also recently heard that around HALF of all NZ schools are in debt and ours is about to employ a full time fundraiser to try to sort things out.

    Increased spending hahahahahahaha

    Since Nov 2006 • 876 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Can we keep a Government consisting of Green/Maori/NZF/Labour (any of those 4 would do) in long enough to see a continued rise in the real value of wages? Please?

    Could we elect a Government that actually gives a shit about child poverty? Instead of one that waves away reports from their own departments as if the problem did not exist?

    Danyl, I wish you luck if you move over here. One thing that's become frustratingly clear to me in my time in Australia is how New Zealand could be the best country in the world, if only we didn't keep keep f'ing things up.

    Queen of Thorn's reminder of how backwards New Zealand is in so many respects is worth reading. When I explain to European friends that New Zealand has high levels of tuberculous they are incredulous, and think I’ve confused diseases…

    If we get the wrong Government after this election, I'm moving to Denmark.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Can we keep a Government consisting of Green/Maori/NZF/Labour (any of those 4 would do) in long enough to see a continued rise in the real value of wages? Please?

    That is what is nice about the smaller parties being able to keep the larger in check.So with the combo you mention, we would have child poverty sorted(Maori Party) the elderly taken care of (NZ First) the country kept green and Labour to represent.....Hang on... isn't that the case now ;-).Look forward to your return to the long white cloud George.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6269 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yep, teachers, doctors and nurses are paid more, which was overdue. Now when do we see some improvements in outcomes for the populace?

    I know the unions used this as an argument, but I don't buy it, or think it's necessary.

    Increased pay rates will only lead to better outcomes, if a significant number of teachers have been sitting around doing a half-decent job because their pay is so bad, and now that they've got back up to something that they consider 'reasonable', all of a sudden they're going to work harder.

    I don't believe that's the case, I suspect most teachers worked just as hard before as they do now. They probably just feel a bit better about doing so now.

    I think increasing salaries of teachers and nurses should just be done because they were underpaid, better outcome or not.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Increased pay rates will only lead to better outcomes, if a significant number of teachers have been sitting around doing a half-decent job because their pay is so bad, and now that they've got back up to something that they consider 'reasonable', all of a sudden they're going to work harder.

    Which is at least in part true. But what about all those who leave the teaching profession for better paid work, because for the same hours and effort they could be holding a better paid job elsewhere, or a similarly paid job with less stress and demands. And there are those who wouldn't consider entering teaching because of the low pay and status accorded (I'd posibly consider myself in this category)

    Those who stay in teaching generally seem to do it for the love, which is no bad thing. However, I have no doubt we could attract more skilled individuals with better pay - and by giving teachers more respect (which probably isn't as obviously addressed).

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I don't quite understand, if 25% leave NZ schools without a minimum NCEA Level 1, why blame should be placed on teachers. Surely, there must be other factors. How does this percentage compare with those who failed the School Cert hurdle?

    If you work out the hourly rate of teacher salaries, it would come to diddley-squat. You would need to factor in a 8am to 4pm day for most + preparation + marking + Saturday sports + school productions + pastoral care. Don't bring up 'holidays' as most teachers I know spend much of such breaks in catch-up mode.

    There may be more weight to the argument that some academics are paid in excess of their contribution. We have this thing called the 'academic year', which is essentially 2 X 12 weeks (or 24 weeks ) of teaching (not every day, of course); whilst the teacher 'year' runs from late Jan to early December, with considerably shorter non-teaching breaks. Teachers don't get funded to swan off to overseas conferences, nor get much entitlement to sabbatical periods.

    This may sound a bit disloyal but I sometimes do get a bit cross with academic colleagues who complain about how 'over worked' they are!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2318 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Geoff - What's the expectation on Academic publication?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    It's the eye of the beholder, Geoff.

    A few years ago, on a trip to the Coromandel, I caught up with the late Michael King and also a former colleague from the Ministry I used to work at. Both had recently returned to teaching at the University of Waikato.

    "How's the job going?" I asked them both (separately).

    "Oh it's such hard work," said Michael. "Long hours, student demands, all the preparation. So much stress."

    "Piece of cake," said Colleague X. "Shorter hours than we worked at the Ministry, lower intellectual standards, and no Minister breathing fire. Less stress all round."

    And compared with what both of them had been doing before, they were probably both accurate.

    That's why I get a bit defensive when bureaucrats are attacked for sloth and sloppiness. It ain't necessarily so.

    Since Jul 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Maybe it was another occasion but I recall that Michael King was funded to write a history of the University of Waikato, which unfortunately didn't get finished. He wouldn't have had much in the way of teaching.

    Shep asks about academic publication. We haven't yet got to the 'publish or perish' state of the US yet and, as far as I discern, the only impact a low publication output has is on individual, annual bids for promotion. We have been through two rounds of PBRF and despite topping the Media & Journalism category twice, my Dept has seen no real financial or staffing benefits. I also know many teachers who publish in the 'spare' time eg my friend Sandra Chesterman at St. Cuthberts, who recently wrote a large book on the nude in New Zealand art. Other teachers wriote text-books or study guides.

    The problem is that tertiary institutions continue to place the sole-authored book at the top of the canon, despite the fact that book publishing can no longer keep up with the dramatically changed flow of information creation and distribution. I wrote a chapter for a collection to be published by Manchester UP FOUR years ago and I am still waiting for it appear! Much less cred is given to newer forms of writing eg on-line journals, blogs etc.

    I realise that peer reviewing (double-blind, and so on) is still sacred in academic publication but it is also very slow, and can occasionally conceal forms of academic censorship.

    In the end, I will contend that most teachers work harder than most academics.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2318 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    “Based on what woolly-arsed theory? Capitalism isn't looking like falling over in the next couple of decades.”

    Yeh I love the way capitalism dealt to the health issues of the American public, stirring stuff. Look Kyle don’t take it so personally , you didn’t invent capitalism and of course the marketplace that capitalism serves is a natural extension of civilised interaction. Capitalism is a system of working the marketplace in order to make the market efficient,reactive and productive.

    ..and it’s supposed to be a progressive system which delivers progressive results yet here we are faced with “wooly arsed” economists predicting Gen x and y will face a standard of living inferior to the baby-boomer. That’s not the vision we were promised at school. Our teachers lied to us. It’s absurd to think we could be happy with a system that produces decreased over all wealth. Jesus at least be aspirational enough to want something better.

    I’m not looking for a destruction of the marketplace, I like eating,…. more a repair job. The “timebombs” of a growing disenfranchised sector of the first world population are real (let alone the brothers and sisters outside our international trading clubs) and while we may be able to hide them in the “invisible’ suburbs for twenty years they just might start organising one day in ways that may make you feel uncomfortable.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The “timebombs” of a growing disenfranchised sector of the first world population are real (let alone the brothers and sisters outside our international trading clubs) and while we may be able to hide them in the “invisible’ suburbs for twenty years they just might start organising one day in ways that may make you feel uncomfortable.

    Heh, that's funny.

    People said similar things in 1968, and then it actually looked vaguely possible, unlike today.

    Sadly, despite what you can read on the Socialist Worker (and other) posters, the revolution isn't coming to NZ.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    "Heh, that's funny.People said similar things in 1968, and then it actually looked vaguely possible, unlike today.Sadly, despite what you can read on the Socialist Worker (and other) posters, the revolution isn't coming to NZ."

    Yeh poverty, it's hilarious. I think we're talking about a different concept of revolution.I'm referring to the concept of revolution as change not the concept of revolution as inevitable class warfare, that's just scaremongering and useless.

    1968. Wow these threads have been going along time.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

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