Letter of the week: Andrew Montgomery, Remuera
I wonder whether anyone understands anything about fiscal and monetary policy anymore. As a D-minus student in Economics (UE) in 1972, I never understood it anyway.
I can't see any point in taxes if the government can print the money or borrow at what will soon be zero interest to keep the money rolling around.
Given that it is now possible to obtain just about everything for nothing - except for food, housing and healthcare - it seems pointless producing more and more stuff of every kind that we already have enough of - but the problem would be that we would have massive unemployment.
I can buy all I need for the kitchen from the local op shop for 20 bucks - not to mention many other household items and clothing for zip. Antique furniture is virtually given away.
Also the cost of production of everything (that we don't need) is plummeting, so the risk of inflation is zero and most New Zealand homes have enough dirt around them to grow a fruit tree and vegetables, some could have chooks, all could have rainwater tanks.
Shopping malls and strips are going bust everywhere.
It's time for a very different and better way to live - it is entirely possible - and would be certainly more therapeutic.
Prescription for eugenics
John Roughan (Weekend Herald, September 19) invokes science and statistics to support his political arguments favouring a higher tolerance for deaths from Covid among certain demographics.
He doesn't mention that a return to "business as usual" favours the middle and upper class at the expense of the poor.
Anybody doing our chronically underpaid and undervalued "essential" work; or obliged because of the housing crisis, to live in overcrowded apartments; or houses with minimal insulation, unaffordable heating and no ensuites; will be at increased risk and find it very difficult to self-isolate.
Those whose immune systems are less well-equipped to fight off Covid include people in large, or intergenerational, households, and those many families subject to food insecurity.
The survival of the fittest eugenics of the Roughan prescription favour anybody able to avoid public transport; those who work from home; and those with larger disposable incomes or private health insurance, whose surgeries and treatments won't be delayed should public hospitals overflow.
But if all that might give pause for thought, never fear, Roughan's cheery update on Marie Antoinette's apocryphal "Let them eat cake" is: "Let them watch rugby".
Janet Charman, Avondale.
John Roughan (Weekend Herald, September 19) argues that, had a different government been in power, New Zealand would not have followed the elimination path. I think he overlooks the fact that the decision was made in real time and without the advantage of hindsight.
In March, the facts were stark and the decision obvious. There was already evidence that the virus was difficult to deal with and the mortality rate apparently high. Add to that our peculiar advantage of our being an island state and the decision became both easy and obvious.
Any democratic government controlling this country would have come to the same conclusion. The only difference would have been in timing.
If we had in power a mature government used to making decisions of great moment the decision would have been made and implemented three or four crucial days earlier than was the case. That is, it would have been truly "hard and early", the result that much better, and the need for second-guessing of the kind Roughan raises irrelevant.
Peter Newfield, Takapuna.
A different path
John Roughan (Weekend Herald, September 19) is right to point out that the cost of ruthless elimination of Covid-19 is just not worth it.
The age distribution of deaths is not dissimilar to 2019 before Covid struck. There have been about 25 deaths from Covid but we have lost so far 100,000 jobs and normal surgeries have been put on the back burner.
Plus, our GDP loss is 12.2 per cent and we are in recession.
We must give up this lust for total elimination, it just won't happen soon.
If the Government had listened to epidemiologist Simon Thornley and his colleagues, we would be on a different path.
Pauline Alexander, Waiatarua.
I was shocked to learn (Weekend Herald, September 12) that we taxpayers subsidise private schools, and in two different ways: the government gives funds directly to these schools; and their charitable status means they pay no tax, in essence a taxpayer subsidy.
And this is how they can afford to pay teachers double what they would earn in a state school, distorting the market.
I don't begrudge the right of parents to send their children wherever they wish, but why should all New Zealanders pay for the education of the rich? On top of this, our state schools are underfunded, and we prop them up with our school donations.
Michael Hin, Grey Lynn.
I would have no problem with taxpayer money going to private schools if the principle of user-pays was applied.
For the record, somewhere north of $50 million of taxpayer money goes to private schools to help fund buildings, staffing levels and provide scholarships to enable parents of children enrolled in the state system transfer them to private schools.
That is where the problem lies, the private schools do not take children who are hopeless at sport, have no commitment to cultural activity and who have major academic issues to overcome.
Typically they take the best of of the students in poorer areas, thereby enhancing their own reputations in the co-curricular and academic fields, while depriving state schools of their best role models.
My thought is that an independent body (sourced through the Education Department) is charged with choosing really needy students, ones with major social, and cognitive problems and these students are the ones enrolled in the elite private schools that continue to receive taxpayer monies.
Of course if a private school refused taxpayer money, they would be exempt from such a system. Just as, if they accept it, they would be obligated to do something meaningful in return.
I suggested this to successive Ministers of Education in both Labour and National governments over the 23 years I was principal of a large state secondary school, but sadly my plea for a user-pays policy fell on deaf ears.
John Laurenson, Devonport.
Revolution number 19
Thank you John Hall, a brilliant letter, (Weekend Herald, September 19). I strongly concur: the pandemic response gives us the opportunity to make much needed, revolutionary change in New Zealand society and more broadly, worldwide.
Balance, connection and sustainability can be advanced through good voting choices in the coming election, to help realise our full potential, and save the planet.
B Darragh, Auckland Central.
A quick word
On Judith Collins tax cuts, I'm reminded of the donkey and the carrot. Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
These tax cuts will serve high and middle income earners, who are still earning - not our poor and unemployed. Kay Kennedy, Tuakau.
National announced a plan to help get the economy moving which included tax cuts for a short time. Labour continue to promote more time off work through more public holidays and sick leave. Work, not welfare, will stimulate the economy. A J Petersen, Kawerau.
I doubt the electorate will be so easily swayed by a quixotic economic gesture that drip-feeds a little money in the pocket - provided you have a job, so paying tax in the first place. G.D. Pratt, Hauraki.
The proposed Greens' wealth tax is simply an envy tax. You have it, I resent you having it, so I am going to punish you for having it. Peter Lewis, Forrest Hill.
Qantas is luring travellers on to low-level flights around Australia that depart and arrive on the same runway. For a country like Australia, particularly vulnerable from climate change and fires, why is the government not stopping this blatant and unnecessary greenhouse gas emission? Rob Buchanan, Kerikeri.
Asian countries were more successful in combating Covid as they learnt from being hammered by MERS, and, realising that another attack was inevitable, set up the systems and equipment to counter-attack immediately. G. N. Kendall, Rothesay Bay.
A judge released repeat violent offender Ollie Walker because Jail would not improve him. A major purpose of prison is to protect citizens. This action is both cynical and dangerous. Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
Community Education was stopped. Now we are invited to talk about our mental health issues (no stigma attached) and seek "help". I know which I prefer. Chris Thompson, Rothesay Bay.
Māori Language Week has successfully highlighted many aspects of te reo and how to use it well. Could we now have a week entitled: "Speaking English correctly"? Rosemary Cobb, Takapuna.
In Uzbekistan, school vacations are scheduled to coincide with the cotton-picking season. No shortage of labour this way. Maybe a good idea for New Zealand? Graeme Woodfield, Tamahere.
Judith Collins' comment that Jacinda Ardern hates farmers is a classic Trumpian tactic, an attempt to polarise one group against another - to her advantage. This nonsense does not belong in Aotearoa. Brian Lovelock, Mt Eden
Sanzaar and Australia need an old fashioned Pine Tree jolt to their political and unsporting attitude to the All Blacks. It's time the NZRU told them to take a long walk on a short pier. Reg Dempster, Albany.
Pestilence, drought, congestion: Auckland, city of ails. Mike Wagg, Freemans Bay.