Posts by Matthew Poole

  • Hard News: Communications breakdown, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I would not be entirely surprised to see things happen now that Watercare has discovered that the affected residents include our new Prime Minister.

    Highly likely, but also something that would utterly horrify her were it to be known as being the case.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Grenfell: a signal moment, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The budget cuts have resulted in fire fighters working hours far, far beyond what is safe

    Nearly 24 hours, in some cases, which is sheer madness. Nobody can safely work such a dangerous, arduous job for so long without respite.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Grenfell: a signal moment,

    This fire is a tragedy, and hopefully lessons will be learned. It also sounds like some people should be on the hook for manslaughter, though I'm sure some winks and nods will take care of the un-pleasantries for those truly responsible and, instead, some poor unpaid tenant representatives sitting on the board will find themselves before the courts.

    It's particularly frightening to observe the fire's spread internally, given that the leaky-building remediation here has turned up apartment blocks that have improperly-applied fire safety systems that would facilitate a similar event. In theory an apartment block is constructed so that every dwelling is a discrete fire cell - a space from which a fire cannot spread within a very generous time window before being extinguished - and this requires that all cable and pipe runs that pass through walls be closed up with fire-resistant materials, including special heat-reactive fittings that swell to shut the gap entirely. Buildings have been found that have open inter-cell penetrations, no intumescent seals, etc. And we cannot even assume that an evacuation might be able to be carried out safely, because these breaches have compromised the stairwells that are to be used in case of a fire. Hopefully we never have to find out whether such a disaster is possible here, but it will be only through good luck if that happens to pass.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Grenfell: a signal moment, in reply to Hebe,

    The Fire Service cuts under Prime Minister May's reign at the Home Office were deep and savage, with much more planned under "austerity".

    The London firies had no way of reaching the top of that building from the outside.

    To be fair, that's not a function of budget cuts. Most fire brigades in the world - there are a few exceptions - do not have aerial appliances that can reach up 24 storeys (roughly 75 metres). Such a boom length results in a massively heavy vehicle which is hugely destructive to the roads on which it must drive, and that has consequences. They're also horrendously expensive to procure and operate; a "normal-size" aerial runs the thick end of a million NZ dollars, and needs a lot of maintenance to remain safe.

    Even FDNY, protecting its city's well-known collection of very tall buildings, only has aerial appliances with a reach of 95-100 feet (about 30 metres).

    The budget cuts have resulted in fire fighters working hours far, far beyond what is safe, but there is no reasonable case to be made that they have deprived LFB of equipment that might have facilitated rescue via the exterior of the building. Especially since much of the exterior was ablaze.

    ETA: This standard-catalogue appliance from one of the biggest names in fire appliance construction in the world doesn't even make it to 42 metres, as an indication of how little case can be made that LFB's funding has kept it from acquiring equipment that might have mattered a damn. The fire was running from the fourth floor up, and down to the second floor.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Low wages support businesses that are inefficient. Low wages are a disincentive for the workers to work better as opposed to longer.

    Low wages are also a disincentive for the business owner to invest in technology (maybe what you meant by "work better"?). When you can get more widgets per hour by either buying a machine for $lots or by employing more workers for $peanuts, and one is an up-front capital cost while the other is an ongoing operational cost, $peanuts will generally win. If workers cost $fair, the calculus starts to tend towards the machine, which might mean some people don't get employed but also means that those who do are producing more while also being paid at a better rate.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…,

    Timely and relevant is this piece from Bloomberg, bewailing the "threat" of the LIS catching up to the productivity gains of the last 15 years, meaning the workforce recapturing the huge increases in profit margins that US corporations have seen over that period.

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is worried that rising pay is closing in on the productivity gains of the past 15 years, erasing the margins businesses have counted on to boost their profits

    If wages converge with productivity over the next three years, profitability will shrink by about 10 percent annually, strategist Charles Himmelberg wrote in a note this week.

    While classic economic theory holds that wages and productivity should move in lock step, that hasn’t been happening in recent years as an oversupply of job seekers suppressed salaries. This divergence explains the lion’s share of U.S. profit growth from 2004 through 2014, according to Goldman’s estimates. In light of tightening labor markets in the U.S., the analysts say the trend is likely to reverse -- businesses are going to have to pay their workers more and it’s not going to come with any increase in output.

    “We find the prospect of what a normalization would look like to be sobering,” Himmelberg wrote. “Rising wages are a threat to corporate profit margins.”

    Cry me a river.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…, in reply to BenWilson,

    But absolutely, any person not totally committed to _laissez faire_ should see that raising taxes is at least a possible thing to try.

    Except that Labour and the Greens have committed to no new taxes and a cap on overall government expenditure relative to GDP. So they've strapped themselves into a straitjacket of not raising taxes, or at least not raising them to anything like the level required to deliver the standards of living and social services that we observe in the Scandinavian/Nordic parts of the world.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And I'm sure there will be a bunch of economists (spit) who present models explaining why that is wrong, it's just a pity that their models don't fit the observed data from all over the world.

    It's never the fault of the models, it's always the fault of the data. The participants in the experiment failed to behave in a truly rational, self-interested manner, so the results are invalid. The model is fine, and markets are perfect, but if the participants are going to behave in an irrational manner then that's not the fault of the economists or their models. Can't be. After all, what rational person would ever not act out of pure self-interest and with full consideration of all the available information?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How StuffMe looked from the regions, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    If you want to compare to the UK, take a look at all their cities with populations > 100k.
    NZ has seven, one of which is Auckland, and if you bundle up Lower Hutt into "Wellington" it decreases to six. Bundling Lower Hutt, Porirua and Upper Hutt into "Wellington" gives you 10 urban areas big enough to be classified as "cities" by Stats NZ, four of which have populations firmly below 100k.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How StuffMe looked from the regions,

    With around 1.4 million residents a fair bit of stuff, some of it newsworthy, happens there. But New Zealand’s population is nearing 4.5 million; less than one third of New Zealand lives in Auckland.

    Being "that guy", this is quite starkly inaccurate.

    Population of NZ is projected to break 4.8m by the end of the month, population of Auckland is between 1.6m (first half of 2016) and 1.7m (projected for first-half 2018). Which means that Auckland is very definitely more than 1/3 the population, and that share is growing.

    Which isn't to say that it's at all healthy for the media to obsess about Auckland to the exclusion of all else, but when the biggest city has a population that's about 20% greater than the combined population of the rest of the top-10 (with that combined total not far north of a million, and three of those cities being part of the Wellington region) it's really easy to justify on an accounting basis and a placement-of-resources basis. Especially when the other centre of focus is the political hub of a country with a pretty concentrated governance structure.

    Two-thirds-ish of the population might be a lot to ignore in aggregate, but when they're spread from Bombay to Bluff and Wellsford to Cape Reinga that's a lot of very small fragments, none of whom care about any of the others' local concerns in the world according to Jennings.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4091 posts Report Reply

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