Posts by izogi

  • Hard News: A wretched editorial, in reply to Samuel Buckman,

    Why do people talk about political affiliations the same way we would talk about financial conflicts of interest?

    I can't add much but I completely agree.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why a renter died from turning…, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    That’s what we have law enforcement agencies for.

    Law enforcement is normally only applied after something goes wrong. Sure you could report a dodgy landlord, but in renting situations where your livelihood’s on the line, and when your next rental might strongly depend on good references from your current landlord, there are all sorts of conflicting priorities which might mean tenants don’t want to report sub-standard living conditions to authorities.

    In some other domains, like maybe truck-driving, or (I dunno) mining, some branch of the government typically appoints inspectors, with strategies like systematic or random compulsory checks, to pre-emptively ensure that those in the industry are actually following the rules. Obviously with mixed results given some high profile incidents, but that might have nothing to do with the idea being bad.

    As there seems to be reason to believe that many rental properties aren’t up-to-standard, and if the problem of identifying the rental properties to begin with could be solved, would there be any feasibility in operating a regular inspection regime? Or is that likely to be so wildly expensive that nobody would go for it?

    I’m sure many landlords would despise any such idea and fight tooth and nail against it, claim things like a giant waste of money and warn that nobody would provide rental accommodation if they were being forced to obey the law, yadiyadiya.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why a renter died from turning…, in reply to Moz,

    In theory rent paid by not-on-the-lease tenants to the leaseholder is taxable income, but the rent paid by the leaseholder is not a deductable cost.

    Interesting and I’d never thought of it like that. If someone went to the effort of documenting a share situation for tax purposes, I’d have thought the leaseholder would be considered a sole trader who’s offering accommodation to others, and so could categorise the cash channeled through them as a business expense equivalent to the income received, on the grounds that they’re not getting the personal benefit of all that space that others are paying for, or something like that. I’ll take your word for it that this isn’t possible, though. Even if it worked out though, I guess it could become an insurance trap if insurance companies argued the leaseholder’s business changed the insurance contract.

    But still, if you ignore those living in flats and channeling rents to a landlord, could IRD’s question about rents received potentially be used to identify many landlords?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why a renter died from turning…,

    As a result there’s no way of knowing which people are landlords.

    This avenue might be trumped by privacy or information sharing issues, but doesn’t IRD ask a very specific question on the standard IR3 – q22 I think, unless it’s changed – about whether you received rents? That would identify all landlords who are directly letting out properties, would it not? (Unless they’re letting them out for free.)

    Even so, I guess this would only identify people after their first tax year, and on the assumption that they’re correctly lodging tax returns, so it would very possibly miss some of the most critical people who are still figuring out what they’re meant to do.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Media Take: Afghanistan,…, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I have lots of respect for Jon Stephenson. I’m sure there’s something to this story, and I’m immensely appreciative of people like him who go to high-risk places like these to get these stories out. But as someone who’s not well versed in everything Afghanistan and nearby places (and hoping for someone who can give a qualified response), how reliable is it to simply ask villagers these sorts of questions?

    If they say there weren’t insurgents, does that mean there probably weren’t? Or does it mean they’re possibly afraid to say that there were? Or does it mean that they might be in league with insurgents and outright lying about what happened because it’s in their interests to make it appear that only civilians were involved?

    I’m abhorred by all this type of crap to begin with, and I’m feeling somewhere between wary of and insulted by the strong distinctions we frequently get presented with between “civilian” and “insurgent”/“terrorist”, as if semantic details somehow justify storming into places, destroy them and killing people. I’m sure the full story is frequently not that simple. But I guess that’s why I’m also wondering about the possibility that the stuff behind Jon Stephenson’s report might not be as simple as he presents it.

    [Sorry, accidentally attached this comment as a reply to Ian’s but it’s intended as more general.]

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Decidedly Undecided, in reply to steve black,

    In other words, rather than explain the “swings” treat them all as examples of how much true variation is there. [--snip--] In both cases (election polling and share market reporting) commentators simply look for a recent event which might be top of mind and “explain” changes using that.

    I've sometimes wondered similar things about currency reporting, even though it's probably less contriversial. We get nightly reports about how much the NZ$ went up or down against various countries, but it's rarely reported for anything other than since yesterday, so it's always fluctuating seemingly randomly up or down, and I have trouble seeing the relevance that could be obtained by looking at longer term trends. (Maybe I'm too self-centred in my perspective?) Political polling reports are often present to the masses in a similar way: The only story treated as being worth reporting seems to be how much it's fluctuated since the previous poll.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How is Government evaluating…,

    I have asked the Ombudsman to investigate the Ministry’s decision. But as the Minister and the Ministry both know, the Ombudsman’s Office is overloaded and decisions take many months

    A couple of years ago, Shane Jones was working on the Ombudsmen (Cost Recovery Amendment Bill. It never progressed (National nuked it at the first reading), but conceptually I think it's a very good idea which I'd really like to see an enthusiastic MP or a future government spend more effort on.

    The idea would let Ombudsmen recover their investigation costs from agencies being investigated, which (firstly) should provide an avenue for Ombudsmen to make sure they get funded to cover its necessary workload, without politicians being able to directly interfere. Secondly, it provides more of an incentive for departments and Ministers to take the OIA seriously and get it right first time, instead of tactically dragging things out and hoping the issue will become irrelevant in time or a requestor will give up through frustration. Some things will attract a certain amount of complaints regardless, but that just means that Department X will need to directly budget for the consequences of what they're working on instead of simply being able to write off those costs as somebody else's problem.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Labour's Fiscal Plan:…, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    What I’d like to see the media doing to everyone, is not just transcribing the claimed benefits (or drawbacks) of any policy but foregrounding the assumptions that inevitably go into arriving at them and putting them into context.

    Policy schmolicy. I want my priority prime-time political analysis to keep me well informed about who's in front according to the latest individual poll, and by how much, who everyone else likes most, and the sports commentary angle of how gleefully awesome or embarrassingly dreadful the tactics and strategies for gaining popularity or undermining others have been.

    How else am I supposed to know who to vote for?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Labour's Fiscal Plan:…, in reply to Swan,

    The capital gains tax has been sold as a means of directing investment away from residential property. But the tax will apply to 100% of the commercial property market, 100% of industry, shares, agriculture etc, and only about a third of the residential property market.

    Does it matter? I know the popular political line right now is about residential property, but what's the actual argument for not having a (well designed) CGT, except that we don't already have one and that so many people have engineered their existing activities and life savings around that?

    As in, why should income be treated differently depending on whether it comes from a home sale or business sale or a salary or a farm sale or dividends or wherever else?

    I'm also not a tax accountant, but to me a lack of a CGT seems to say to anyone that if they have a small bundle of money, then they should buy a house with it (because houses are easiest right now), even if they don't want one, and therefore push up the value of houses, or make that house less available to someone else, and result in someone else who might use the money more effectively not getting it.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Suicide Reporting; or, The…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    We report road deaths in great detail and that combined with the application of tremendous creative talents in the advertising industry has actually reduced our road toll.

    Not to mention being a strong argument for increased funding for roads. I don’t want to politicise this aspect too much away from Graeme’s topic, but consider how the public’s sense of priorities might be influenced if suicides were as visible as road deaths.

    Also from Graeme:

    Almost five months spent trying to republish publicly available information, and [—snip—] I was now prohibited from telling you about the existence of a Coroner’s Court in Christchurch.

    Ouch. In my limited dealings with the office, it took much less for me to come away thinking it was unnecessarily hard to deal with. (For me it was simply having to post a physical written request to get a particular Inquest Report which interested me. This was in about 2010. Maybe I'm spoiled by internet. It could be easier now.)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

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