<2>Ethics are a question of economics
As the recent Herald editorial explained, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) counts the total domestic output of paid goods and services. It is used as the main indicator of our economic wellbeing. Or is it? A German rock band nailed the problem: "We are going to increase the Gross Domestic Product". They would do it by vandalising parks, scratching keys along the side of cars, beating people up, and generally being destructive.
Using GDP as a measure of economic wellbeing is a remnant of the frontier economy. Such an economy had very little dead-weight: The law was the shotgun, the judicial system was the five-minute jury, the penal system was the gallows. Food was so scarce that many ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes, were extremely rare. If you got ill, you either got well or you didn't. In such an economy more output always translated into better living standards.
Not so today. We buy sugary drinks for our children, then pay a fortune to fix their teeth. We overeat, then we spend even more money on diet and gym — or in the hospital. Pollution is counted twice into GDP — once when it occurs, then when it is cleaned up. Probably one third of our GDP is wasted to rectify the damage we do with the other two thirds. The time is overdue to also attach a quality to GDP, not just quantity. There is indeed a difference between building a prison or building a school.
Living to an ethical standard is not just a question of morals, it is also very much a question of economics — it determines a country's economic success or failure.
K. H. Peter Kammler, Warkworth.
Follow the rules
There is a little bit more to the argument than to just simply say returning Kiwis should have to pay for their two-week quarantine in a hotel when they arrive back in New Zealand. They are entitled to return but the government now says they must spend two weeks in quarantine. The government doesn't make prisoners pay for their stay in prison, so why should returning Kiwis, who are simply exercising their rights as a citizen, and have not committed any crime, have to pay to comply with the government's border regulations?
David Mairs, Glendowie.
A free holiday
As the mother of a daughter who has just had a major operation, lives alone, paid tax for 35 years, and is receiving no financial support whatsoever while she has six weeks off to recuperate, still has to pay her rent, power, food I feel miffed that returning NZers can have a fully funded two-week vacation with all meals provided. Where is the justice?
Linda Lang, Henderson.
As an AA member I resent Minister Twyford's misrepresentation of my support for better public transport as support for his "light rail" scheme. There is no cost benefit analysis to support it. Better public transport would involve a third line on the Southern rail system to allow more freight and express passenger services, and extension of the electrified commuter service to Pokeno (and eventually to Hamilton) and to Kumeu/Huapai and then Helensville. If necessary a spur line could be constructed from Puhinui to the airport but the existing Skybus and Shuttle buses offer a better service — especially if they can be converted to electric vehicles. And of course we need a busway on the Northwestern motorway.
Bob van Ruyssevelt, Glendene
Save Marsden Pt
Shane Jones has been crashing about in Northland throwing billions of dollars at regional development and he can't even save thousands of jobs at Marsden Pt refinery. He and Winston Peters are hellbent on shifting the Port of Auckland to Whangarei.
I travel regularly on the ferry from Devonport and I am always amazed at how few ships are in port and how many empty berths — so why is the Port of Auckland too small?
Maybe the possible closure of Marsden Pt refinery is just another ruse by the wily oil companies to get the Government to subsidise the refinery to save the jobs and Shane and the boys from NZ First will champion the cause and save Northland.
Jock MacVicar, Hauraki.
On Saturday evening, during a storm, the power went off. While we sat in our armchairs worrying over this slight inconvenience people were called out to battle the elements and restore our connection. These are true unsung heroes of today. Please pass on our grateful thanks.
Colin Francis, Waihi.
End of tourism
The wage subsidies that have kept businesses afloat during the pandemic crisis have also delayed the transition to new enterprises that are fit for the climate crisis. The most glaring example is the tourism sector that is dependent upon international travellers, is hopelessly embedded in high carbon emission transport and the discretionary spending of the affluent. It works against climate change mitigation for the purposes of a privileged minority. We have become so dependent upon tourism for income and employment by ignoring these fundamental truths. A large part of the tourism sector needs to be sacrificed and its talents and resources redirected into businesses suited to a low emissions economy.
Cliff Mason, Northcote.
A Herald feature highlighted the invaluable work by the Mangere Budgeting Services Trust and foodbank, administered by CEO Darryl Evans for the past 20 years. Darryl states, "poverty gets progressively worse, as quickly as welfare benefits increase rents go up". Are rental charges inflated, do they relate to the new reality of Covid-19, an age of job losses, increasing austerity?
Indebted residential investors have reaped the benefit of collapsing mortgage rates to a 70-year low, a windfall gain. Is a little benevolence appropriate, possible rent reduction in these troubled times?
Meanwhile Darryl and his volunteers assist so many in the community; what remarkable individuals.
P. J. Edmondson, Tauranga.
I was truly delighted to see the Herald reporting the innovative and positive projects in our brilliant country. Congratulations to the World Cup women's soccer team and those who made the tournament a reality. Our new, gigantic Navy ship was a sight to behold. Also, the skiers at Mt Cook were delirious about the huge snowfalls. And 50,000 covid tests proved negative in Auckland. We are the luckiest people in the world.
Rex Head, Papatoetoe.
The senior manager discharged without conviction for what the judge called "serious" offending was let off due to his deprived childhood. Fine, so long as the same applies to deprived young Maori charged who may also want to have a career and travel overseas one day. Meanwhile, others who want to indulge in gross invasions of privacy may proceed with impunity, and the police might as well not bother to get involved.
Adele Gautier, Balmoral.
More of the same
Reading Simon Wilson's interview with National's new leadership team it seemed their plan is to continue the Government's successes, except they'd do it better. With transport, associated climate change and anything else that is difficult or contentious, the answer is to wait for amazing future technology. With the many serious and complex issues to tackle we need all political parties to demonstrate bold, courageous leadership. Not cling to "kick the can down the road" politics in the hope you get into power by offending the least number of people.
Bruce Copeland, St Marys Bay.
Back on track
Niall Robertson (NZ Herald, June 27) succinctly laid out the case for getting the Gisborne-Napier rail line back on track.
The $30m cost quoted by Patrick Smellie is a pittance compared to Auckland Harbour bridge's $360m cycleway and sums spent for other road works being carried out and future-planned around the country.
Is this another case of the road lobby winning again? Restoring this rail link would be a boon to the eastern North Island, as would a loop from Gisborne across to the Bay of Plenty to create a Great Eastern Rail Journey.
Nick Nicholas, Greenlane.
Audrey Young's column in Friday's Herald about the David Clark — Ashley Bloomfield "thrown under the bus" incident should be required reading for all those who tried to whip up hysteria about it. The column provides a fair, balanced assessment of what happened including the facts about each man's responsibilities and a careful consideration of each of their strengths and weaknesses.
Despite the clamour for blood, the decision as to whether David Clark should remain in his position until the election should not be based on this incident.
Raewyn Maybury, Westmere.