Hard News by Russell Brown

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  • Rob Hosking,

    Its a pity Brash didn't expand on this - I'd be fascinated to hear his examples of 'Key unplugged'.

    I suspect its a reference to the accord he reached with Clark over the anti-smacking bill. It was acknowledged at the time Key winged this one.

    On the article itself - I thought it was very good. And in case anyone thinks Ruth is some sort of Brash sympathiser, look up the articles she wrote after the first Orewa speech.

    Gareth, *possibly* the Treasury-commissioned McLeod report on tax would have the info you're looking for

    The review was actually commissioned by Cullen. The second part of Labour's 1999 tax policy was to have a review (the first part being the 39% top tax rate).

    According to Beehive legend, Cullen threw the report in the bin and snarled he'd just paid $1 million for the Business Roundtable's tax policy.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    In the 10 years I lived in London and travelled on the tube, I was never hassled by people drinking.

    Well, you're a very lucky chap. I know a young woman who is neither a hysteric nor a wowser, who found getting sexually harassed (and in one memorably nasty incident groped) on the tube one thing she won't miss without London.

    And while I get pissed off at neurotic busy-bodies, I don't think the twenty year old smoking ban in the London Underground is proof of creeping fascism. There are quite legitimate health and safety concerns. There are certainly underground stations in Sydney's CBD that would be death traps in case of a fire, whatever the cause was.

    Also, while I'm sure most railway workers are nice people, I remember an incident when I was a teenager when a mate of mine was cheeky to a ticket inspector and got punched. He complained and the guy was prosecuted but *not sacked*.

    And I know railway workers here in Auckland who just don't bother reporting verbal abuse (and I'm talking about crap a little more serious than a bit of "cheek") because there's no point.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Indeed. Parlour psychoanalysis often provides delicious case studies in projection and various forms of confirmation bias.

    And with that berg of salt, allow me...

    I've sometimes thought that Brash appears to display (please note the weasel words there) the external behaviours (and a couple more) of psychopathy.

    Leaving aside the stereotypes that run from Lecter to Moriaty, genuine psychopaths are more like HAL 9000, or would be if they weren't really like the Pointy-Haired Boss. Most are in fact, simply incompetent because they're incapable of reading the contextual/political/social signs at all accurately and cannot think in terms of details or the long term.

    I was struck by various points in the PCL-R list - manipulativeness, glibness, lack of remorse, shallowness, lack of empathy, relationship problems etc. OK, that's mean, but in line with a recent doc, The Corporation arguing that corporations, considered as individuals are psychopathic and stirring in a bit of Orwell's essay, 'Shooting an Elephant', which contains the marvellous line, "He wears a mask and his face grows to fit it", I can't help but think that the whole political packaging process is (ooh, another reference) a bed of Procrustes that forces people to act in such ways.

    Anyway, some time back I did have a Pro Vice Chancellor who fitted the profile perfectly (for obvious legal reasons, I won't name him). The man was a genial, colourless idiot with a permanent air of self-congratulation which is pretty much expected of anyway who is supposed to embody the amorphous qualities of the executive.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    As sympathetic as I feel for Brash as an individual, I feel little sympathy for him as a politician. The story that he's a principled man is increasingly unbelievable. Though it might not count as highly for others, his criticism of Clark's marriage and his comment that Labour supporters weren't mainstream NZers were particularly revealing. I didn't agree with his politics, but his hypocrasy and small mindedness was what most offended me.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I don't think the twenty year old smoking ban in the London Underground is proof of creeping fascism

    And that ban was put in place for a very good reason. I was living in London in 1987 when the Kings Cross fire happened. And that was started by a dropped cigarette.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The anti-smacking bill would be up there, I'd suggest.

    Good call Rob and Graeme - I think its fair to say Judith Collins didn't sign off on that one at least.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 895 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Anyway, some time back I did have a Pro Vice Chancellor who fitted the profile perfectly (for obvious legal reasons, I won't name him). The man was a genial, colourless idiot with a permanent air of self-congratulation which is pretty much expected of anyway who is supposed to embody the amorphous qualities of the executive.

    There's no chance you could defame any senior University academic with that description as possibly 50 per cent of them, on both sides of the Tasman, cohere with it (sadly).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Good call Rob and Graeme - I think its fair to say Judith Collins didn't sign off on that one at least.

    And as I've said elsewhere, I don't think Nanaia Mahuta 'signed off' on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. She did vote for the third reading, and has been extremely circumspect about what she says in public on the subject. Sorry, folks, I can't really summon faux-naif surprise at the idea that consensus politics doesn't mean everyone personally agrees with every sub-clause of every policy, bill and public statement from their party.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    There's no chance you could defame any senior University academic

    Well, actually it has more to do with the terms of my departure from that institution and agreements attached to that. I tell you, it was a gruelling experience - I cried all the way to the bank (I didn't get as much as Buchanan - but not that much less...).

    (The institution in question is not Victoria - I rather like my current job there)

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    ... which reminds me of a quip I often deliver to friends: Inspector Morse was a hopelessly unrealistic police series as the homicide rate in a university would never be so low.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Yes, of course a smoking ban is justified on underground railways, who said it wasn't? I'd have been keen for an overground smoking ban when I was in England, but that would have been me being intolerant.

    Alcohol is different, you can't burn down a station with spilt drink, unless it's a Flaming Ferrari.

    I think most IT staff and anyone else who meets customers has to deal with a bit of verbal abuse from time to time. I also think NZ train people are much nicer than the ones in the UK and mostly recognise that they are dealing with customers, not prisoners.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Smart,

    Surely Brash is a product of his upbringing he was a involved in Presbyterian Church in the eighties according to my very Scots MD. He belongs tothe Sottish hair shirt brigade. As do other right wingers such as Rod Deane. Like Gordon Brown (British PM) his is the son of a Presbyterian minister.

    You really can't hate him.

    I hope Russell that we would never suggest hate as a suitable emotion for for any politician

    He does however have some excellent characteristics. I met him when he was Governor of the Reserve Bank. His action were indicative of a man typical of the type. I drew his attention to an article of economic interest. Some weeks later i received a courteous reply personally signed thanking me for drawing his attention to the piece and giving his opinion.

    I was left with the impression of a man who was the product of a different era. Better someone like him than some of our more odious politicians of both right and left. Yes, he was a deeply committed right winger, that many of us would disagree with,but not bad just committed.

    Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    Possibly the wrong site to be asking this on, but have been looking for a while for documented evidence of this "lower top tax rates incentivising hard work". I understand the theories of marginal income etc, and can see how it may have an impact on secondary/part-time employment but does anyone know of a study that actually suggests what the national impact would possibly be? i.e. what growth we would expect?

    The belief that flatter tax structures lead to higher growth is as much an article of faith as it is something based by solid evidence.

    I blogged this in quite some detail a while back and Lane Kenworthy also has a good post on the debate in the American context here.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • underscore_b,

    Indeed. Parlour psychoanalysis often provides delicious case studies in projection and various forms of confirmation bias.

    Fair call, Craig, but I really don't think that's the case here. Brash has previously called Hager's book a scurrilous attack, now he says it was an honest one. That's a pretty stark contrast. Or do you have a different interpretation?

    Since Jun 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I hope Russell that we would never suggest hate as a suitable emotion for for any politician.

    There'd be the odd one on the world stage, but no, I've never been one to apply such feelings to people in elected office.

    I was left with the impression of a man who was the product of a different era. Better someone like him than some of our more odious politicians of both right and left. Yes, he was a deeply committed right winger, that many of us would disagree with,but not bad just committed.

    Of course, and committed quite rigidly to the ideas he believes are right, not equivocating like the rest of us. I'm quite fascinated by how short the leap is for some from a Marxist worldview to the far end of the ideological scale.

    Some dreadful people are former Marxists -- Great Global Warming Swindle producer Martin Durkin, revisionist historian Keith Windschuttle. I don't think Brash is a dreadful person. Like I said, he might have been an asset to Parliament as the Act Party leader, although perhaps that party would still have been too crammed with weirdos to function effectively as the classical liberal party I'd like to have around.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    The Brash interview does rather seem to vindicate the thrust of Labour's election campaign as well - it's pretty clear Brash wanted a right-right wing government, not a centre right one, and that his real agenda that he wanted to push would make the Richardson/Shipley era look rather tame by comparison.

    Given that Labour seem to be hoping they can poke Key with the same stick this time around the timing of Brash's interview is... interesting, to say the least.

    I'm quite fascinated by how short the leap is for some from a Marxist worldview to the far end of the ideological scale.

    It's that old political horseshoe we got in fourth form social studies when discussion Communism and Facism. Or CS Lewis: stident atheist becomes obnoxious Anglican pillock.

    Some dreadful people are former Marxists -- Great Global Warming Swindle producer Martin Durkin, revisionist historian Keith Windschuttle.

    And, of course, the core of the neo-conservative movement in the States, who are happy to apply the idea of violent revolution for utopian goodness. It's just they now think the US millitary are a better tool than the awakened proletariat.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Terence W: Excellent, thanks very much, even if you have simply confirmed a suspicion that the empirical backing for the theory simply isn't there!
    This quote from an article you linked to summed up my view on things:
    The scope for higher earners to reduce labour supply, even if they wanted to, is limited (at least in the short-term). There are very few part-time chief executives, or part-time derivatives traders.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    I hope Russell that we would never suggest hate as a suitable emotion for for any politician

    Why? A well-placed bullet in a fancy restaurant could help solve a lot of Zimbabwe's problems. A shot to the back of the head in the 30s could have made Spain a much nicer place. A stray bullet in a German street fight in '23 would have avoided the ruin of much of Europe by Facism and Communism.

    There are plenty of politicians who deserve loathing and hatred.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    A well-placed bullet in a fancy restaurant could help solve a lot of Zimbabwe's problems.

    Etc. There is no doubt that sometimes removing a dictator solves a country's problems, and a transition to democracy follows. But often, one despot is removed, and another steps into place, or the country disintegrates. None of which is to say we should support dictators, but that we should have our eyes open about the possible consequences.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2119 posts Report Reply

  • underscore_b,

    But Rodger, the alternative you're proposing is just another kind of fascism, which undermines democratic process just as much as the leaders you're seeking to depose. I know I certainly wouldn't want to live in a society where any politician or social activist had reason to fear for their life, no matter what their views.

    I'm all for criticisms of policy and even assertions that certain people are unfit to hold public office. But there's a big difference between that and threats of violence.

    Since Jun 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There are plenty of politicians who deserve loathing and hatred.

    And many, many more who don't. Representative democracy requires that some people stand up and are prepared to be representatives.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    And that ban was put in place for a very good reason. I was living in London in 1987 when the Kings Cross fire happened. And that was started by a dropped cigarette.

    In the space of 30 months, two smoking-related fires in the UK (King's Cross in November '87 and Bradford City in May '85) killed over 100 people. I'd say that a mere ban on smoking on the Tube was a pretty restrained response, really.

    There are plenty of examples of real crypto-fascism by the powers-that-be in the UK, without people needing to try and make out that smoking bans based on clear public-safety grounds are somehow impinging their rights.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Smart,

    There is no doubt that sometimes removing a dictator solves a country's problems, and a transition to democracy follows.

    So we agree with George Bush now. If you don't like their politics shoot them. Great philosophy Dislike even hate the actions of others but don't hate them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Worthington,

    Gareth, if you search for "dynamic scoring", you'll find what you're after. The wikipedia page for that topic has a link to a technical paper by Mankiw, in which he estimates the long-run off-set to tax cuts to be 17% for labour and 50% for capital (in the US context).

    People tend to confuse two channels in which taxes could impact on GDP. The first channel, as in the paper above, is the level shift in output associated with the fact that capital and labour are both responsive to tax-rates. And the GDP level effect alone doesn't capture all the dead-weight losses associated with taxes. Although there is argument about the magnitude, I don't think there is much serious dispute about the fact that raising $1 of tax revenue costs society more than $1.

    The second, and more controversial, channel is the idea that higher average or marginal tax rates lead to permanently lower rates of productivity growth. I'd concur that the evidence here is not compelling. However, my suspicion is that the cross-country studies that have been used to investigate this channel simply lack the power to determine whether there is an effect one way or the other - it's hard enough to explain differing productivity growth rates full stop. Of course, assuming we accept the first channel holds, it's hard to believe that productivity growth is completely independent of resource allocation.

    Since Jan 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    well placed bullets

    well maybe, but those fascist leaders had a lot of willing followers too - hence:

    But often, one despot is removed, and another steps into place

    anyway, it's got to be better to understand than to hate

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 315 posts Report Reply

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