Island Life by David Slack


Creative Accounting

My favourite Jesse James story is my only Jesse James story. He and his gang are outlaws. They're on the run. They come to a farmhouse seeking food and rest. The woman lives there on her own, a poor widow. She takes them in and, even though she has little, finds enough to feed them all. They learn that she is expecting a debt collector at any time, coming for the $1400 she cannot pay him.

So Jesse James the bank robber reaches into his saddlebag and pulls out the $1400. Give him this, he says, and make sure you get a receipt.

James and the gang then thank her for her hospitality,wish her well and ride away. But not very far. They take watch.

Before long the debt collector appears. He rides up to the farmhouse, knocks on the door, goes in. He reappears just a few minutes later looking content. He starts back down the road. The James gang descend on him, take back their 1400 dollars and ride away.

Robbin' banks - debt collectors, even - is wrong, and lawlessness is an unhappy state, but generosity to the needy, wherever one finds it, warms the heart.

Bill English and Chris Finlayson, our new minister for the arts, have been generous in hard times.

When the ASB Trusts' investment income takes a post-sub-prime thrashing, there's much, much less money to go around. The oxygen runs thin, and a whole lot of community and cultural organisations start to worry about paying their bills.

Reading now from the budget: Creative New Zealand gets an extra $7.1 million over the next four years, the Royal New Zealand Ballet an extra $3.4 million over the same period.

Sincerely: well done, Sirs.

I might as well ask: do either of you enjoy cycling?

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