"the people" have no role to play in filling single-vacancy public offices
No, I'm saying that they have every role to play. They should elect a parliament, who choose a Prime Minister who commands the confidence of a majority. Given a fair voting system for MPs, this ensures the PM will have the support of MPs representing a majority of the populace.
France and the United States are never going to give up their republican forms of government
The US, probably - they'll keep their 18th century constitution until the nation breaks up.
France has only had a directly elected president since 1958 when it was instituted as a deliberately counter-democratic measure to impose stability on a deeply divided nation.
The Swiss, interestingly, rotate the presidency (and hence their nominal head of state) between the members of a power-sharing Federal Council.
without giving any examples
You need one? Donald Trump. or Vladimir Putin, admittedly accompanied by ballot rigging.
you have at least conceded that conventional instant-runoff STV is "probably the least worst" method of determining who wins single-vacancy elections
There has to be a "least worst" method in every case. If the alternatives were astrological projection or throwing the candidates into the harbour and seeing who remains afloat, I'd opt for the latter.
Also, I'd just point out that Lindsay Perigo (who?) was not the first to suggest a collective presidency for the US, it was unsuccessfully proposed by Edmund Randoph and others in the Federal Convention of 1787.
In the case of Ireland, the president is a mostly ceremonial post, and a "beauty contest" suffices. They could of course abolish the post and have the Taoiseach be head of state as well as government.
The US and France should adopt a parliamentary system, like the vast majority of the worlds democracies. The US has the excuse of being the first large modern state to try democracy, but it's now 2017, not 1776, and we can change and use modern innovations (like MMP and the electric jug).
inevitability of the ascendance of the populist right in France
The Front National's first-round vote has varied between 10% and 17% over the last 25 years, so 21% is not a huge leap - and it's a long way from there to being electable.
The two-round system is a fairly poor way of selecting a single president from multiple candidates (all systems of directly electing a single leader, including NZ mayoral elections, are intrinsically bad, but conventional instant run-off STV is probably the least worst => I'd suspect Le Pen would have been eliminated at the 3rd or 4th round of such a system).
Bringing extremist candidates into power is in many ways an artefact of such unfair voting systems - with MMP, NZF and ACT are effectively corralled -> they may get a coalition ministry but have never moved near to displacing National. (and NZF is constrained from moving further to the right by the possibility of National and Labour working together to exclude them, as has happened in several European states).
Are we seeing the revitalization of the UK Labour Party or its demolition?
The British haven't changed their 2-party structure since the introduction of universal suffrage, which resulted (after a delay) in many of the newly enfranchised voters finding a home in Labour and the Liberals becoming unelectable.
English voters are fairly settled into an approach of voting either for the Conservatives or for their strongest constituency opponent, be that Labour in the North and large cities, or the Lib Dems elsewhere.
I'm picking that Labour won't drop below 200 seats this election.
To me the main issue with Blair is that he paved the way for Brexit, in the same way that Obama paved the way for Trump.
The ordinary working and middle class people have had their living standards and job security steadily eroded since the 80s. Politicians like Blair (Obama, Clark, Little) have a basic platform of being better enablers of capitalism - the concept being that while the 1% get massively wealther, "trickle down" makes ordinary people better off. This hasn't actually happened in the UK or the US, and it's only happened in NZ because (some of) the middle classes have had the benefit of house price inflation to gain an illusion of wealth.
The result of this is a grumpy populace willing to vote for Brexit/Trump.
...there is an ideological fashion that came out of Chicago and other places in the 80s. You just do not find economists or economic writers who challenge this basic theory.
Stiglitz? - he was doing much of his work in the 90's. I think the actual state of affairs was that all academics *in New Zealand* followed a doctrinaire neo-classical approach.
I'm assuming that, rather than paying SBW through a bank payment, he gets handed a kitbag full of banknotes after each game?
Moving 1000 social housing renters into home ownership could produce a net fiscal saving of $11.1 million over 15 years, BERL's data shows.
Why? On a narrow definition, sure, if the renters aren't paying the full costs of their accommodation, then getting them to move into houses that they fully pay for will remove the cost of that subsidy,
But in Real World Economics, they're still living in a house, it still needs work to maintain it, there's the depreciation and the sunk cost of building. Having the house owned by the government or an individual doesn't change that - in fact, it probably means more work is being done to maintain them in the house (no economy of scale, unwork like real estate agency and insurance, higher financing costs through credit risk).
All that's really happening is that the subsidies gone, so the renters get poorer and some non-socially housed rate taxpayers get richer.
(There is of course the popular Thatcherite social engineering concept that making people buy houses transforms them into middle class families with a correct work ethic).
the 1984 Government took bold action to course-correct from the cul-de-sac of Muldoonism
How many people were sleeping on the street in the Muldoon era - my partner remembers very few, but not sure whether than was because they had state houses and jobs sweeping railway platforms, or were locked in some dank institution?
In general, I'd argue the post-1980's realignment of capitalism, here and elsewhere, has been fairly disastrous. It destroyed semi-productive work and created a bunch of useless jobs (e.g. selling electricity) that frittered away all the benefits of the technological improvements of the past 40 years.
It's nothing to do with immigration.
It's not a supply and demand thing. If it were, then at some point (as with out of season tomatoes or imported Japanese cars) a price level would have been reached where people weren't prepared to buy Auckland properties any more. By any rational standard, a shack in Avondale is not worth over a million dollars.
It's a bubble, pure and simple. If you bought a house in Auckland on a mortgage at any point in the last 15 years, you've gained a flow of tax free money, often in excess of what you could earn by actually working. It's got politicians re-elected (first Clark and then, when it slowed a bit, Key) and distracted people from the increasingly precarious nature of their actual earnings from work. It's unsurprising that half the world wants to join in - the demand to actually live in shacks in Avondale might be limited, the demand for free money is infinite.
And a crash *will* help. Prices will re-align with earnings as speculators are forced to bail. Hopefully, a government will be forced to implement radical policies to reboot the economy (e.g. building a bunch of high-density housing, a la Hong Kong). Either that or we'll get a Trump (one way to avoid that is to ensure National is in power when it all goes pear shaped).