Thank you, Emma Russell, for your front page Herald on Sunday article on Joseph and Julie Moon having to return to the US to fund her lung cancer treatment.
It is unfortunate and hard that the Moons have to abandon their dream life in NZ and return to the US for cheaper treatment under the US Affordable Care Act (for which they can thank President Obama).
But – two things:
One: Think about the NZ citizens living here, in the same position as yours, who have paid taxes through different governments during their lives, who do not have such an option.
Two: Don't blame Pharmac – blame the politics behind it and, in particular, the large overseas pharmaceutical companies (US clearly included) with whom we are tied through trade agreements, who require over 300 per cent profit margins on the drugs they sell to Pharmac and other developing countries' institutions; blame the stock market players who support the 300 per cent profit margins and the dividends they receive; blame the insurance companies who are eating into our margins for health care funding.
Individuals' options become very stark against the backdrop of that curtain.
I agree with you, Mr Moon, it's cruel and unfair. Dying isn't an option. But how we die (to the extent possible) should be, in a caring society.
Cheryl Nicholson, Whangārei
Hardship in the economy seems to stem specifically from the tourism and hospitality area. Other parts of the economy have been largely untouched by the pandemic. So the National Party tax cut will be ineffective because it is not targeted.
They want to give away roughly $5 billion in a tax reduction over 16 months, which will benefit the rich far more than low-income people, and they hope that the rich will spend to the advantage of all. I am afraid that will not work. The danger is much of this money will go to imported goods and property investments. Surely it would be better to spread the benefits more evenly and specifically target the industries that need the most help.
Instead of a $5b tax cut, why not divide this sum into 16 monthly payments of $310 million. These could be converted into travel vouchers for the public to pay for bus, train or air fares within New Zealand. Further, vouchers for half the cost of accommodation could also be used. This way, many New Zealanders will be able to enjoy holidays they cannot afford and our tourism industry could remain intact.
Niall Robertson, Balmoral
It is typical of Labour's election campaign to offer another public holiday for Matariki (a blatant sop to the Māori voter), an extra five days of sick leave (which most of the less well paid will take full advantage of whether sick or not) and raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour. These are all blatant election bribes which someone else has to pay for and in this case it is businesses which are already under huge financial stress owing to the Covid restrictions. For each worker on the new minimum wage this will directly cost their employer $4800 per annum and, given most businesses are lucky to make a net profit of 5 per cent, they will need to increase annual turnover by $96,000 per employee just to maintain the status quo.
Surely at this time with 200,000 people predicted to be unemployed next year, the worst thing to do is saddle companies with these additional costs?
Richard Dawn, Mt Eden
I struggle to see why cruising yachts carrying passengers who can prove they have been in total isolation for two weeks are not allowed to enter NZ.
Bringing both repair work and tourist dollars these sailors can be no less than seven days sailing from the nearest foreign land about 1200 nautical miles distant.
Their departure time is stamped in their passports.
They haven't flown in directly from India or other hotspots and probably are the safest visitors to arrive.
So, rich America's Cup syndicates get most-favoured status?
Rob Buchanan, Kerikeri
A correspondent notes that there are fewer citizens per MP in NZ than in other countries (MP Ratios, Sep 24), and argues we could reduce costs by reducing the number of MPs.
This sadly misses the point. It also reduces democracy. The next time people of this view want to get the attention of MPs, constituent or list, they could compare the chances of 1:150,000 (Italy) vs 1:40,000 (NZ).
David Cooke, Pt Chevalier
I had to laugh the other day while watching The Chase. They asked what the meaning was of the old Scottish word "detrump". The options were: to cheat, lie or tweet.
The polls show Joe Biden ahead nationally by about seven percentage points (less in the battleground states). Trump appears determined to win, by fair means or foul.
Voter suppression has long been a feature of the American political system. Many states have already been egregiously gerrymandered. Attempts have recently been made to cut short the 10-year census which awards congressional seats on the basis of population.
Trump is now taking every opportunity to destroy confidence in the mail-in voting made more necessary because of coronavirus (it's a scam) and, indeed, the election itself. His appointee to the Post Office has dismantled the high-tech mail sorting machines, stoking fear the ballots will not arrive in time. Attempts to give longer vote counting times are being challenged in the courts, the highest of which will soon have six conservative voices. Some states are allowing only one drop box per county, meaning people may need to drive for over an hour to deliver their ballot. Trump is encouraging his supporters to be "poll watchers".
No wonder many feel democracy itself is at stake.
The answer to the above, by the way, is cheat.
Christine Hillier, Remuera
Two full-page advertisements in my newspaper promote and sell a NO vote to End of Life Choice.
The doctors say no while committing to death with "dignity, effective pain relief, trust, respect, support and real care". Noticeably they list alphabetically under their first names, not their surnames. Since we are rarely on such familiar terms with our doctors we cannot search randomly through all 1472 names to check our doctor's attitude. There is no compulsion on any doctor to act.
The Yes/No page of the Vote No party quite fairly states first the validation of a Yes vote and then sets out to destroy it. This attack needs to be read carefully with its concerns for possible misuse all of which are either addressed in the bill or subject to modification in Parliament before passing into law.
This is a most private, personal and individual decision. Not one to be sold by any organised and financed pressure group.Their group's aspirational ethics may not be yours.
John O'Neill, Whangārei
Green's wealth tax
In Friday's Herald, Simon Wilson ("Setting the record straight on Greens' wealth tax") made much of the "misreporting" of the Green's wealth tax proposal. In particular, he claims that the proposed 2 per cent rate tax only applies above a $2 million threshold.
While this is true for individual taxpayers, it does not seem to be the case when assets are held in a discretionary trust.
The Green's policy states that if a Trust's assets "… are not clearly linked to anyone (for example, a discretionary trust with a large number of beneficiaries), the trust would get treated as its own person for tax purposes and taxed at 2% on all assets, with no million dollar threshold".
This may not be a trivial group. There are a large number of trusts in New Zealand and most family trusts are thought to be discretionary in nature.
Dr Murray Horn, Papakura
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Hosking on tax cuts
Mike Hosking's contribution on tax cuts (NZ Herald, Sept 24) deserves comment.
There are two aspects to the issue of tax. First the necessity of paying tax, we either live in cohesive civil society or we don't. If we choose the civil society road we must pay for it.
Governments can spend money wisely or poorly, nothing new in that, same with us in our own lives or businesses. The bigger the enterprise, the easier it is to find waste and poor decision making.
Hosking ends his piece with the declaration that he can spend his money more efficiently and productively than the Government.
The Government, for all its mistakes, spends its money on maintaining a cohesive and fair society, supporting the less fortunate and protecting the world we live in.
The rich spend their money on things. Last week we learnt that the world's richest 1 per cent consume as much of the planet and our grandchildren's future as 50 per cent of the rest of us.
Most personal wealth today comes from asset price rises, the consumption of planet Earth and the civil and legal society we enjoy. The rich are consuming the planet with their demands. I would prefer the Government spend more of their money - not less.
Geoff Prickett, Waikanae
From what I have seen in the Labour electoral programme, I don't feel like there is any interest from this Government to make any substantial change in the system to stop the housing humanitarian crisis that affects the most vulnerable and benefits the rich and powerful.
House prices have not stopped going up and rent is getting out of hand.
Labour put some patches here and there to do something: banning foreign buyers was a good move, trying to build more houses is also important. However, these moves are shy from really changing the reality of moving the money from the bottom of the socio-economic group to the top in two different ways: charging ridiculously overpriced houses or paying rents that in many cases represent almost one salary of the household for houses that are depressingly bad.
I think in that regards, Labour has forgotten the team of five million and cares just about the team of landlords and speculators.
Joaquín Ginés, Northcote
Short & sweet
The idea that the Green Party could go to Labour post election with a bottom line of "no wealth tax, no coalition" is laughably naive when you consider their alternative. Take that proposition to National and Act? Seriously? Labour can take the "Just Say No" card into negotiations. John Christiansen, Mt Albert.
On tax cuts
There seems to be some confusion about National's proposed tax cuts. They do not apply only to those working but to everyone paying tax, which includes beneficiaries and pensioners. Andy Petersen, Kawerau.
On bridge woes
It may be appropriate to introduce a fast ferry commuter service, Half Moon Bay to Ferry Central. With the bridge hiccup, Birkenhead ferry has come in to its own. Yvonne Sutton, Northcote.
On home fitness
There is so much mendacious advertising of an assortment of gadgetry promoting physical fitness, perfect bodies and good health all in the privacy of your home the need to take a walk or cycle in the sunshine could become a thing of the past. Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
Could you ask one of your journalists to let Crusher Collins know she needs to fasten her seatbelt. Her smug look would quickly change if she was given a ticket. John Shears, Milford.