Posts by Dave Howell

  • Up Front: Another Brick in the Wall, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think a lot about families not in as strong a position to claim their rights as we were.

    My father volunteered for Citizens Advice Bureau for years after he retired. He spent 99% of his time fighting bits of the government on behalf of those who couldn't advocate for themselves. He swears blind that his value was entirely in being a rich old white guy who believed at a gut level that The System was there for his personal benefit, and could convey the depth of his moral outrage when it didn't work that way for everyone else too.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Party on, dudes,

    I've been lurking since Hard News was listen-only, and almost never comment: mostly because I'm usually a few days behind the play, but partly because when I do it depresses me: l'esprit d'escalier still works even in slo-mo. But let me just pop up to say that this has been my most valued chunk of the internet since it used to arrive in my inbox. Congratulations Russell, and everyone else, and thank you all for making the world just that little bit a better and more enlightened place.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Changing news, in reply to Russell Brown,

    they do ask that people they deal with use their marketing name

    It's all a bit "People's Democratic Republic of X", innit? If you need to ram it down our throats in your name, you're probably not....

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Voyage: Full Steam ahead, in reply to Mr Magoo,

    The earth simply cannot support that level of production

    This is a statement which has been made repeatedly over the past few hundred years, and probably the millenia before, and has not yet proven correct. Technology tends to advance to fill the gap and allow better utilisation of resources, or substitution of alternative resources. The most recent large scale example of this is probably the "Green Revolution" advances in agricultural productivity in the mid 20th century.

    Your rare earths example is a case in point - rare earth ores are actually extremely plentiful, despite the name. The processed metals are limited in supply by political games and by the fact that refining is a nasty process due to the raw ores typically containing significant quantities of toxic materials such as thorium: both these issues can be overcome given the will.

    I think there's a good chance that you're right that the economy won't be 4 times as large, but I'd suggest that what prevents it won't be running out of resources, but shooting ourselves in the foot by mismanaging those we have. Humanity has proven over and over again that it's perfectly possible to starve in the middle of plenty if we put our minds to it.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Where do you get yours?, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I'll use that for stuff I would previously have got through the library. But things I want to re-read, or stuff like the Jim Butcher series that's currently being read by three members of my family, I'll buy in dead-tree format.

    I've been astonished, and in all honesty somewhat dismayed, to find that I actually prefer reading from the Kindle than real paper. But when it comes to browsing for something to read, there's no substitute for a physical bookshelf. So now I've consumed all the (non-crap) free ebooks in Fifth Imperium, mostly I buy junk fiction from Amazon's Kindle store. But books which I expect to become old friends whose faces I'll be pleased to re-encounter on my shelves, I get in paper from bookdepository. Between the two of them they've more or less obsoleted my library card, which 3 years ago was my most treasured possession.

    As a consequence of this, I've found Amazon's recommendation engine is starting to get pretty good at finding me airplane reading. Jo Walton at Tor, however, is my goto blog for keepers.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: It's real, in reply to Sacha,

    How about if the trading banks were forced by legislation to offer a higher ratio of business lending?

    I beliebe there's already a mechanism by which something of the sort can be done. Banks' Capital Adequacy requirements (i.e. how much liquid funds they need to have available to back their debts) are worked out based on risk weighted exposure. RBNZ sets the weighting assigned to different types of risk. Banks prefer to lend into low weighted areas because they can lend more per unit real reserves. My understanding (which may well be wrong, I'm not an expert) is that in theory, this allows the Reserve Bank to push them towards company lending and away from mortage lending by adjusting the risk weighting of each. At present, "residential mortgages are assumed to be less risky than loans to companies" so banks favour mortgages.

    Rich has a point though about whether pushing them the other way is necessarily a good idea.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: It's real, in reply to DexterX,

    Bear in mind the greater part of the productive base of he economy is not listed on the stock market.

    Who said anything about the stockmarket? Exactly the same argument applies if you do a deal with Fred the plumber to give him 20 grand towards buying a new van, in return for a chunk of his plumbing business, and therefore of his future profits.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: It's real,

    Can someone please explain how CGT will suddenly encourage people to move out of property investments and invest in more “productive” areas of the economy?

    Combination of tax treatment and effects of leverage.

    Shares return taxable dividends and non-taxable capital gains. Houses return taxable rents and non-taxable capital gains.

    However you can borrow money to buy a house, and offset your rent against mortgage costs, so you pay no tax (or even create a loss which you can offset against other tax). Since not all the money in the house is yours, but you're getting all the capital gain, your non-taxable return on investment is higher in proprtion: net result is 100% (or more) of your return is non-taxable..

    As banks regard companies as less secure than houses* , it's much harder to borrow to buy shares. So you're more likely to have little or no leverage. So you pay tax on dividends, and don't make as much capital gains. NZ companies, listed ones at least, pay relatively high dividends and have relatively low share price growth. So most of your return winds up being taxed - either directly through you, or via company tax.

    Plus if you're investing in offshore companies (and if foreign ownership of NZ assets is bad, NZ ownership of foreign assets must be good, right?) then you are already paying tax on capital gains through the FDR scheme, so it's even worse.

    Capital gains tax levels all that out.


    * which is probably true apart from the sector risk issue: while an individual company is more likely to go belly up than an individual homeowner, as the US found out recently, when homeowners go belly up they tend to do it in droves, whereas companies are more diverse so they don't tend to all fail at the same time unless things get really messy.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Experiment have seen collisions!!!!!!!!!!!,

    hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com

    RSS feed

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's lynch the liberals!,

    nothing in these emails that I have seen ... is out of the ordinary for private communications between serious and ethical scientists

    Or, as Peter Watts puts it,

    Science doesn’t work despite scientists being asses. Science works, to at least some extent, because scientists are asses. Bickering and backstabbing are essential elements of the process.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

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