Adopt living wage, remove support
I wholeheartedly agree with Charles Waldegrave (NZ Herald, December 22) on the living wage, although for different reasons.
A person on the minimum wage gets all sorts of support from the taxpayer, such as Working for Families tax credit, accommodation supplement, and others.
On the face of it, we subsidise this person's life. In reality, we subsidise the person's employer, be it the fast-food industry, the care sector, or the orchardists.
It would be much smarter to mandate the living wage, and do away with the subsidy. There are jobs which cannot be eliminated, such as in the care industry. These services would become more expensive, which merely shows where the costs are instead of hiding them in the subsidies.
Some jobs would have to go because workers would be replaced by sophisticated machinery. Harvesting robots come to mind. This is exactly how other counties have achieved higher productivity, with higher wages and higher tax take as a result. Unemployment is not a concern because, as the baby-boomers now reach retirement, we will need more sophisticated machinery to get the work done anyway.
The real challenge is to train up the unskilled workforce.
K. H. Peter Kammler, Warkworth.
Advocating the abolition of income tax and raising GST to compensate, (NZ Herald, December 22) has it back to front. Rather, we should scrap GST and raise income tax to compensate. We should tax the ability to spend, not the need to spend.
I do not mean increase the rate of income tax, but rather widen the scope of what is considered income and thus to be taxed as such. Money derived from, for example, selling real estate or shares, should be regarded as income and so taxed as such. All and any money obtained from any source is, and should be regarded as, income, and taxed as such.
Only then will a fiscal level playing field prevail. Only then will those who currently slip through tax loopholes be made to pay their share for society, not freeload on the rest of us.
John Mihaljevic, Henderson.
As a person who has experienced the benefits of the rehabilitation facilities in the gym and hydrotherapy pool at Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation for 10 years, I completely endorse Victoria Carter's comment (NZ Herald, December 21).
There isn't a pool like it in Auckland. The temperature of the water was just right. The long ramp on one side of the pool provided access for wheelchair patients as well as those who had difficulty getting into other pools.
The work of all the therapists was very much appreciated by all who needed it. They were kind, patient and very skilled in their work.
This rehabilitation facility is very much needed here. Please don't let it be dismantled as nothing will replace it. It is a vital asset for Auckland.
Dorothy Dawson, Royal Oak.
I was interested to read (NZ Herald, December 22) of the exposure of Covid "myths". Two are relatively straightforward - its comparison with the flu and the ploy to force global vaccination.
The other three are more problematic and we may not know the truth, if ever, until we have conducted post-pandemic research.
In relation to masks, the only randomised control trial to date apparently found little or no advantage. The advice is perfectly sound, based on the precautionary principle that the cost is relatively small and the potential benefit quite large.
In terms of the virus being man-made, there is circumstantial evidence that virus could have escaped from the lab in Wuhan that is focused on examining bat viruses. This does not mean that the virus was totally natural, nor that it was man-made, but that it could be a modification of a virus found naturally in bats.
Finally, on the question of exaggeration of Covid toll, the jury is out. An examination of total mortality and excess deaths would suggest that many jurisdictions are counting deaths of people with Covid as deaths of people from Covid, two quite different premises.
I would have thought that one thing this year has told us, is how much we don't know and how often the "experts" have been wrong.
Malcolm Pollock, Mt Eden.
I read (NZ Herald, December 17) Trevor Mallard said, "that some of the behaviour staff had reported was of a very serious sexual nature and in his view 'amounted to rape'. " This was a mistake which Mallard said he knew within 24 hours of making the statement. What I find absolutely appalling is that he did nothing about this for a year and a half.
I was also disturbed by the fact that our Prime Minster stated that she had confidence in Mallard. I am not a member of any political party and I have voted for three difference parties during the time I have had the power to vote but I do not think the Speaker of the House should carry on in this manner and keep this role.
Mallard should resign from Parliament and go into retirement. After making such a statement, and probably ruining a civil servant's working life, he does not deserve to be in a place of power. I for one have absolutely no confidence in his thinking ability.
Ant Martin, Greenlane.
Out of turn
I find myself in the unusual and slightly uncomfortable position of agreeing with Richard Prebble (NZ Herald, December 23).
He highlights MPs have the power to slander with impunity while in the parliamentary chamber but it now appears they can do the same outside of parliament, based on a rule introduced by guess who - Trevor Mallard.
Within parliament at least they have to behave themselves to some extent under the moderating control of the Speaker. Yes, the same Trevor Mallard.
In his case there is no control inside or outside of Parliament and Parliament's integrity suffers as a result.
Is this another act of kindness just for MPs?
Rod Lyons, Muriwai.
In Collins' defence
I was disappointed by Shane Te Pou's opinion article (NZ Herald, December 22).
The insinuation that Judith Collin turns every political disagreement into "utu" or "personal hostility" was misplaced and unfair.
Collins took leadership of the National Party with an almost impossible task ahead of her.
National's loss does not rest on her shoulders. In fact, her strength and tenacity during those gruelling pre-election weeks increased my regard for her considerably.
Judith is an intelligent and diligent leader.
Petulant is one word I could not ascribe to Judith Collins.
Think about reading her book Pull No Punches, you may find you actually like her.
Maxine Nisbet, Mt Eden.
Your excellent interview with David Shearer (NZ Herald, December 22) reminds us that, assessing the probable political trends, he was on track to gain government (with Green and Maori Party support) in the 2014 election.
However, the centralist faction believed that its continuing control of the Labour Party was more important than Labour winning government, and accordingly ousted Shearer in favour of Cunliffe.
Bryan Mockridge, Penrose.
Regarding the four lanes needed and only two lanes to be built to Whangaparaoa (NZ Herald, December 23): I came to NZ from Perth Australia and I had never ever seen a one- lane bridge until I came here such as the bridge to the Coromandel and many others I drove over in the North Island.
I was sure it would not have been double the original cost to build a needed sensible two lane bridge to save huge traffic queues at each end. Likewise I am sure a four-lane road, while all the workers, gear and materials are on site, is not double the cost of two lanes.
Why are New Zealand roads and bridges so badly planned, as they will need widening in the near future at a far higher cost and disruption to traffic as traffic using them increases substantially?
Murray Hunter, Titirangi.
Will the compulsory teaching of history start at the beginning? Modern man came into being 200,000 years ago in Africa. Apart from descendants living in that particular region now, everyone else is a descendant of people who left and colonised another place.
Moving on. Clever man has created problems which require a global response. There are no answers in the past, only recently has man had the power to destroy his entire habitat.
The history of science is the history of human progress. Our future depends on science - the evaluation of evidence by experts - and a rational response by a united human race. That is what we should be teaching in schools.
Dennis N Horne, Howick.
Humankind has been battered - but not annihilated - by Covid, climate change acceleration, and the toxic trio of Trump, Putin, and Kim Jong Un.
Yet here we are near the end of 2020, vulnerable and broken, but hopefully wiser.
I can't help wondering if, as a species, are we supremely resilient or merely suffering from chronic myopia?
Mary Hearn, Glendowie.
Short & sweet
This could be good for all motorists. The 2C rule: Care for yourself - consider others. Ben Arthur, Massey.
On Te Pou
I have carefully studied Shane Te Pou's discourse on Judith Collins (NZ Herald, December 22), and concluded that he really doesn't like her. Rob Elliott, Kohimarama.
So, he has been convicted of two further violent sexual acts, and doesn't serve a single day or any additional time for these barbaric acts. It's time MPs amended the law and deleted the word concurrent and replaced it with cumulative sentences. Warren Prouse, Papakura.
I hope all the teddy bears that are still around the streets after lockdown have had their sunscreen applied. D. Cook, Torbay.
Perhaps Trump's post-election behaviour shows us we were right to be scared; that the US - and the rest of us - really did dodge a serious bullet. Gary Ferguson, Epsom.
Spark - the telecommunications company with one of the worst and most infuriating phone systems. If my call is valuable - get someone to answer the phone. Geraldine Taylor, Remuera.
Christmas without cricket on the telly is like having Christmas without Christmas cake in the belly. Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.