Posts by James Millar

  • Hard News: Sportsball Special!, in reply to Russell Brown,

    How my heart sank when I realised that Danny Morrison had crossed the Pacific to join the test commentary team. Sigh.

    This. Cricket is muted and music goes on whenever he comes to the commentary box. Worst. Sports commentator. Ever.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: You can Roughan but you just…, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Services going West-East would be useless to the majority of users if you had to bypass the CBD and go through Newmarket-Strand-Eastern line, which is the only way you could do it without the CRL. The CBD has the highest concentration of jobs in NZ, plus tens of thousands of students across numerous university campuses, and you'd have to be running alternate West-Britomart and West-East services. Given you'd be competing for space with the current Onehunga, East-Britomart and Southern services coming into Britomart I'm not sure how the network would cope.

    You absolutely need the CRL if you want to improve capacity of our whole rail network. The new electric trains will make a bit of difference as they can carry more passengers, but ultimately given the Britomart bottleneck you're limited in the services you can run.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: You can Roughan but you just…, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    But this plan is to spend the vast majority of funds on getting people to and from the CBD.

    Actually the CRL will be of huge benefit to people who don't work in the CBD. The CRL turns our train network into a true 'network', rather than just 4 lines funnelling all services into the Britomart dead-end. Since Britomart is one-way, we're limited in the frequency of trains services as trains must exit the same way they came in. Post-CRL trains can go through Britomart and service frequency can be massively increased. With a 5-minute train frequency, bus services could be realigned to feed into the rail network, rather than competing against it. More trips by train = fewer bus and car trips required = roads less congested.

    Also, post-CRL, there could be West-East or West-South services that avoid the CBD entirely (depending how they'd plan the lines), say by going through Newmarket.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Switched on Gardener: to what…, in reply to James Butler,

    Yeah I would have thought that the supply of cannabis would come from 1) gangs or 2) small scale operations using hydroponic equipment. Surely time would be better spent going after the big gang suppliers than trying to crack down on the small fish? I can imagine casual users would actively prefer to get cannabis through friends of friends than by using tinny houses & the gang network (where they get exposed to P among other things). It seems to me that the polic targetting SOG would be the best things the gangs could hope for to eliminate competitors from the marketplace and increase their market share...

    The cynic in me suspects it's a case of the police trying to get the low-hanging fruit (however futile), and politicians being more concerned with appearing 'tough on crime' and posturing (Like the Judith Collins quote above) than actually doing anything about the problem that might help, like harm reduction measures tried overseas supported by large bodies of evidence.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: MySplore,

    Ah Splore, I'm still glowing :)

    Highlights: The Hooha Hut, pretty much any time. Watching brilliant sets from The Nudge and Ahoribuzz on a mellow Sunday under a shady tree on the hill above the main stage - the best music of the festival IMO. And did anyone else see the glowing stick figure people and Vospertron dudes on Saturday night? Whoa. Just whoa.

    Lowlights: The inconsiderate f**kers on yachts who emptied their toilet tanks in the bay, causing part of the beach to be closed on Sunday. I curse your house with a plague of locusts.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Spending "Cap" is Fiscal Anorexia, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Well yeah, but the right are the only lot offering austerity so they get to offer their stylings without any competition. If the left had an austerity program of substantial increases in top rate taxation and a steady spending regime, they’d be a choice.

    Instead Labour decided to offer borrow&spend as the preferred alternative.

    NZ chose austerity and it comes with a rightwing government.

    I think the 'National = austerity; Labour = frivolity' dichotomy is totally wrong.

    Cutting the top marginal tax rate and corporate tax rate has reduced our tax revenues (and it's not covered by increased GST); Labour's (and the Greens') capital gains tax would improve revenues.

    Selling state assets to pay for operating expenditure (schools, hospitals, etc) is financially pretty stupid. As other commentators have pointed out, borrowing makes sense in some circumstances - i.e. borrowing money at 5.5% while retaining state assets that pay around ~8% pa in dividends is a sensible idea.

    National's transport policy is a $26 billion barrel of pork dedicated to white elephant highways we don't need to promote a mode of transportation that is increasingly threatened by peak oil.

    While the last term of the last Labour government did see a rise in government expenditure (WFF, interest-free loans etc), government spending as a % of GDP fell during the previous terms, and Cullen spent budget surpluses paying off sovereign debt - ignoring the shrill cries for tax cuts coming from the right at the time.

    I think (and this is really the hallmark of the Key administration*) the thing is that Key seems financially sensible and austere because he's a nice-smiley-rich-man-who-worked-in-finance-therefore-he-knows-what-he's-doing-so-don't-worry-about-it. Psychologists call it the 'halo effect' (i.e. assuming people who are good at one thing are better at others too), while cynics would point out that this government has really proven true the notion that perception is more important than reality.

    *yes, I used that presidential term on purpose - see National's election strategy

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Last Words, in reply to tussock,

    ...don’t like government spending (health and education, eh),...

    ...unless it's for uneconomical white elephant motorway projects that are counterproductive to NZ's long-term economic development and expose our economy to future oil shocks. Those are fine to spend money on.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Fiscal Responsibility is the…, in reply to Brendon Steen,

    Plus National’s argument about the benefits of keeping the top income tax rate, the trust rate, and the company rate all equal is hard to argue with.

    That was supposedly the argument for lowering the top marginal individual tax rate, but since the company tax rate is 30% (28% next year), that argument isn't really working anymore...

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Doing the right thing on retirement, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    But won’t the people paid this pension be spending it back into the economy?
    It’s not like they are getting it and going out the back and burning it in the incinerator or in some other way taking it out of circulation…

    True, but with NZ's persistent current account deficit (which will get significantly worse if we go ahead with planned asset sales), much of this money will be flowing overseas.

    Another point is the opportunity cost of money that could be spent elsewhere by the government - if nothing else, consider the impact of pension payments taking an ever-large slice of the fiscal pie to the detriment of everything else.

    Farming, the banks, Telecom, Air NZ – that sort of thing? You did mean corporate welfare – the really expensive kind?

    Yep, it's funny how 'welfare' = DPB & unemployment benefits in common usage - it now has a very narrow definition. Kind of the opposite of 'political correctness' which has grown to engulf everything anyone doesn't like, for whatever reason.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Doing the right thing on retirement, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Yes I am aware of those projections – but they partially are based on assumptions that retired people will make no contribution to the economy ie they will be a burden. The people ratios also don’t allow for income differences (between retired and working people) and therefore tax take over time . The gap between rich and poor is widening – throughout the spectrum – therefore in decades past those 4:1 were providing less tax per individual than the 2:1 today. Not a major perhaps but ..

    In my father’s day being over 65 meant you were pretty well useless , burnt out or just buggered. My generation will be capable of earning and paying tax well past 65. Just not perhaps with the same mortgage driven frenzy we did in middle age.
    Not denying the problem but I reckon the picture is more complex.

    All valid points - the picture certainly is pretty complex. It's great that people reaching retirement age are generally healthier than in past generations, and that fact might slow some of the projected blowout in health costs.

    The point with the ratios which I should have elaborated on is mainly a fiscal one: an automatic pension being paid to anyone aged 65+, funded by general taxation by a shrinking workforce (notwithstanding those over 65 still paying tax) is going to put immense strain on government coffers in coming decades.

    I just find it duplicitous that a government claiming to be concerned about reducing the welfare bill will take great pains to implement punitive measures on solo mothers and other 'unworthy welfare recipients' whilst ignoring the elephant in the room of automatic pension entitlement - as far as John Key explicitly saying the current pension situation is sustainable and in need of no fix, while his government stands firm on the retirement age, freezes Cullen fund contributions and undermines Kiwisaver.

    (FWIW I support a universal basic income and don't desire any cuts in pensions, I just fear we're walking into a huge problem if we don't stop ruling out the solutions available).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since May 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

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