Flipping the housing paradox
If my granddaughter purchased a home to live in she would have to pay all mortgage interest, insurance, rates, plus repairs and maintenance costs out of her tax-paid earnings with no
tax write-offs. Yet as a investor, under current tax laws I can purchase a home, rent it to her at a market rent then claim the mortgage interest plus all the above-listed outgoings as tax-deductible expenses against this rent, thus showing no profit or tax payable. Thanks to a past multimillionaire Prime Minister cancelling gift duty, I can at some future date gift back to her all the rent paid plus the complete house, tax-free. A classic example of the unfairness and stupidity of our tax system.
To assist young family, first home buyers, make their mortgage interest deductible against tax payable on wages and allow interest deductibility for investors on new builds only.
David F Little, Whangarei.
What is the point of Auckland Council creating zoning, only to have rural land, which is outside the future development boundaries bought up by Fletcher Building for new housing?
Fletcher Building says it will try to have its new purchase (two farms) rezoned or, if it cannot do this, have a private plan change application, and have this heard by an independent committee.
The big company seems to know it can plough through current zoning legislation willy-nilly.
Chris Blenkinsopp, Beach Haven.
John Werry's letter "Vaccine wasted in rest homes" (NZ Herald, December 14) opens up a plethora of ethical issues.
As a physician and educator, Emeritus Professor Werry has specialised in children and adolescents and has no professional expertise to make ethical judgments on the utility of vaccine protection within vague constructs of life worth.
It is incontestable that the elderly suffer the highest mortality from coronavirus infection. It is a dreadful death, akin to slowly drowning. The vulnerable elderly in assisted living arrangements (with multiple people coming and going) are like sitting ducks. While Werry considers it "economically and medically bizarre" to give such people vaccine priority, in terms of risk and mortality, it is entirely pragmatic.
New Zealand has relentlessly adhered to a public health-focused approach to this pandemic; valuing all lives equally, resisting the slippery-slope of becoming ageist demi-gods judging the life worth of some and sacrificing such lives to economics and convenience. Our country's response has been a resounding ethical, fiscal and internationally inspirational success.
Other nations have entangled their response in economics, inevitabilities and often objectified the lives of the most vulnerable. They are places of immeasurable suffering, chaos, and public health calamity.
Russell Hoban, Ponsonby.
There comes a time in the affairs of people's lives when their behaviour – or rather lack of it – reduces their personal integrity to levels that are frankly, nauseating. Such is the case of the Speaker of our House of Representatives who has, by his actions, cost the country
several hundred thousand dollars.
Then there are those who have the "authority" to address the Speaker's lack of acceptance of personal responsibility, and do something about it. By that, I mean our Prime Minister. Doing nothing is not so much a lack of her integrity as it is an appalling lack of judgment.
Yet both – I suspect – will go unscathed and continue their respective roles of leadership in our country.
The old saying is never more relevant than in this case -"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. However, if you don't have integrity the same holds true – nothing else matters".
Max J Carr, Flat Bush.
Over a barrel
I expect everybody following Minister Poto Williams' advice to keep calm and look out for each other is now feeling much safer. No need to worry.
Except that there is. There is no justifiable reason for anybody in NZ to have a firearm outside the armed forces, police, and a strictly limited number of soundly vetted hunters and agriculturalists. Anyone else who owns or wants a firearm should be treated with extreme suspicion. Why would they want such a thing? The phrase "responsible gun owners" is a contradiction in terms.
The importation of firearms should cease and confiscation continue. Other than in approved situations mentioned, having a gun should be illegal. It may take many years for guns to surface and be taken, but the task should continue and future generations will thank us. I speak not out of naivety, but as an experienced past user.
If having a gun makes you feel safer, why isn't the US the safest country on earth?
Derek Smith, Remuera.
I could not disagree more with Stewart Hawkins (NZ Herald, December 14). Caesarean sections are major operations designed to save lives of mothers and babies. The WHO recommendation since 1985 has been a caesarean rate of 10-15 per cent. That National Women's has a rate closer to 40 per cent cannot be justified.
The distance between Auckland and Middlemore Hospital is all it takes to demonstrate postcode obstetric care. Elective caesarean rates are considerably lower in Counties Manukau and have been so for years.
The procedure uses valuable human and financial resources that are scarce enough with an ageing population and pandemic to address, let alone "maternal choice" apparently being a reason. Having one caesarean raises the likelihood of further such procedures in the future, which just keeps the spiral on an upward trend. Repeat caesareans constituted 44 per cent of this surgical intervention at National Women's in 2018.
It is time to look critically and wisely at how health dollars are spent. Except for maternal and foetal life preservation, elective caesarean section should only be a choice for those prepared to bear the full cost of surgery, anaesthesia and extra hospital care.
Maria Carbines, Hillsborough
Multiple head knocks inevitably lead to brain dysfunction, and shortening of life.
I have refereed more that 100 games over 35 years. During that time and since, I have witnessed the destruction of so many players' lives.
It is time for people to speak up and demand change, not only for the health of players, but for the health of the game in the future.
Warwick Bringans, Taupō.
Trelise Cooper chose a very apt name for a dress in her current collection, accurately reflecting its design.
An academic complained and drew an extraordinarily long bow to claim a link between the dress name and events in Native American history almost 200 years ago.
Unsubstantiated and plainly fatuous allegations like this are becoming increasingly common in our society and require strenuous rebuttal.
Sadly, Cooper apologised. She need not have. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Cam Calder, Devonport.
Detaining returning citizens in their own home as an alternative to managed quarantine simply would not work.
Returning to a home where others were going about their daily activities, work or leisure, runs the risk of spreading the virus far and wide if one returnee was to test positive.
Even if they were the only ones quarantined in their home, there's nothing to prevent visitors calling, exposing them to the risk of contamination. We have already witnessed how easily contamination can occur. Why take the risk?
Kathleen Hawkins, Papakura.
Richer and pourer
2020 has been exceptional and a year in which economists have a poor track record. So, it is surprising to see their crystal ball gazing, though we are not out of the woods.
We have an early article about how China's trade war on Australia is backfiring. Australian farmers are losing $330m on barley exports while China is losing $3.8b, spent on substitutes for brewing. Hold my beer, Ally Foster.
In the late 1990s, I worked for Fosters, who had three breweries in China and manufactured beer from "40 per cent rice and 60 per cent barley". Within three years, only an expert could tell the difference between "70 per cent rice and 30 per cent barley beer" and the former. Four years later, you'd have to be even more expert to tell between the Japanese 100 per cent rice alcohol plus flavour, colourings and hops extract, called "Happoshu", and any beer on the market.
Though the cost of barley is low, beer will be made "from the finest hops and barley". But when the cost of barley goes up brewers can ferment almost anything into "beer"; and sometimes more cheaply.
Maybe 2021 will be a better year for economists. Cheers.
Mike Schmidt, Sunny Hills.
Ready to eat
Strawberries do not ripen once they are picked. If they do not look ripe, they never will be.
I like Kane's Strawberries from Cambridge, picked for flavour, and deliciously ripe and sweet. You can buy them from several discerning greengrocers in Auckland.
Pedro's nectarines in Hawke's Bay, many years ago, picked their fruit riper too, and they were divine. You need to pay more for fruit like this, but it was worth the extra expense to get that satisfaction.
Glenn Forsyth, Taupō.
Short & sweet
Labour has a mandate to transform but they do not have the stomach for the task. We have the same indecisive backsliding as before the election. Just do it. Dave Noke, Pāpāmoa Beach.
Surely first for the vaccine must be our amazing workers at the Quarantine Hotels. Each day they put their lives and the lives of their families on the line. They deserve the protection first. Karen Waters, Herne Bay.
It's coming up to Christmas and New Year, so please be kind and control your dogs in accordance with bylaws/signage and Dog Control Act 1996. To those who are responsible dog owners, who do the right thing all the time: thank you. Wendy Baker, Nightcaps.
In a parallel universe, WorkSafe NZ is ginning up to sue the Dunkirk flotilla because they didn't have enough life jackets. Curtis Barnes, Remuera.
After another fire, that was probably started by fireworks, I have to ask: why the hell haven't governments stopped the sale of fireworks? Susan Lawrence, Meadowbank.
It remains odd that the leader, who has appointed the most judges in US history, is claiming that the election, held in the country he runs, is corrupt. Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
To suggest overseas travel in 2021 as a good idea, is just naff. John Ford, Taradale.