Science overlooked in honours
Now just back from Pennsylvania and Israel, I am absolutely appalled how science is undervalued in New Zealand (NZ Herald, June 3). Only one Queen's Birthday Honour , compared to 21 sportspeople - truly dreadful. The sports people - some who are highly paid, many were simply doing their job, or following their passion, excluding those who topped the world.
Such non-recognition of our science expertise has its consequences. Scientists become despondent when lay people challenge their expertise because they think they can look it up on Wikipedia. There is the trope of the overseas expert. Our well-qualified scientists are shot down as "tall poppies" and ignored, and when an overseas colleague arrives and provides the same information then their word is "the truth". My colleague Professor Michael Mann commented on how he noticed this in his recent visit here.
Israel spends 6 per cent of its GDP on research, science and innovation and is now the knowledge economy. Every Silicon Valley company has branches there. Sports on the news is lucky if it even receives a mention. Senior scientists are held in very high regard by the community and the young. And one of the reasons I go overseas is to receive a new inoculation and refresh of climate science.
It is most astounding that the appreciation of our science community has reached such low depths. We must now start celebrating the great achievements of our current scientists, rather than harp back to Lord Rutherford all the time, and mopping up resources in the science bureaucracy.
Dr Jim Salinger, Auckland.
The girls who set up and run Good Bitches are the most deserving of all the Queen's Birthday Honours.
They are the epitome of what these honours are all about. That bit of joy that they bring to people who are at an all-time low is absolutely incredible.
It is probably, in certain situations, life saving. To put a smile on someone's face when they are at an all-time low is the most fantastic thing that any human being can do for another.
Their award is not only well deserved but should be lauded and copied by every single person in this country.
Congratulations and best wishes for the future of your awesome venture.
Gavin Sheehan, Totaravale.
Now that the Wellbeing budget is over and digested, the "experts" again turn their attention to GDP (NZ Herald, June 4). GDP's peak in recent times was when Christchurch was being rebuilt and in other cities people traded houses with each other at ever increasing prices. First-home buyers took out eye-watering mortgages while homeowners, thinking they were now rich, splashed out. Such economic activity even had an Australian economist stating that ours was a "rock star economy".
The facts belie. Despite the need, we built no more than the usual number of houses. The old ones stayed the same but cost more. School and hospital buildings deteriorated while teachers and nurses salaries became insufficient to pay the now rising rents. People without homes slept in cars and infrastructure lagged. No wonder mental ill-heath increased. Despite good GDP figures we were, in fact, no better off.
The money the banks had lent was borrowed and those big mortgages have to be paid back so of course there is not the money for other things that make life better. GDP had measured economic "busy-ness" but not product or progress. As the housing market slows, it is a reminder that we created a situation that could not go on forever. GDP has slipped but, if we are going to measure anything, why economic activity going nowhere?
P Belsham, Mt Albert.
Bouquet for Brett
My deep admiration for Brett of Gull Service Station in Kaukapakapa (NZ Herald, May 31) who won't sell cigarettes and offered customers a chocolate fish out of his own pocket. What a commendable and sensible "outside the box" move in working towards a healthy and smoke-free community/country as well as removing the possibility of a cigarette break-in that has plagued shops selling cigarettes. e should either take the place of some of those currently in government or act as a mentor to them as forward thinking certainly isn't part of the skills set of some of those in government.
Margaret Scott, Pakuranga.
If there are no new taxes and if the Treasury says the deficit is projected to remain below 20 per cent of GDP (NZ Herald, May 31), where is the extra money coming from for budget spending increases? The answer is that it comes from "bracket creep". Bracket creep is where wages rise due to inflation but the tax brackets don't change. Poor taxpayers are forced into the higher tax brackets.
Tax brackets haven't changed since 2011. In 2011, only 11 per cent of earners made more than $70,000 thus paying tax at 33 per cent. Thanks to inflation, 17 per cent of earners now make over $70,000, creating a "magic tax take" with no new taxes!
Magic tax money comes from the lower end of wage earners while the wealthy pay nothing extra. The wealth gap just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Teeth are rotting. Houses are cold and damp. Money keeps getting tighter for the disadvantaged.
To correct the problem, tax brackets need to be adjusted and then indexed to inflation. Next we must address the real problem, that the wealthy don't pay their fair share of tax.
John Caldwell, Howick.
"Only bilingual training will truly speak to Māori." Professor Willian Doherty makes this very telling statement with regards to Māori status in education (NZ Herald, June 3).
He writes that the term "under achieving" in his mind needs to be changed to "under developed". Such a simple-sounding change but probably getting to the nub of our education system.
You cannot achieve until you have developed skills to give a base for achieving. Maybe this wonderful and succinct change in language is at the centre of our philosophy in learning.
Relating a parallel to sport. No athlete can achieve potential until that person has developed the required skill levels.
All we have to do to achieve the final aim is to develop the skills to do so. Language is a basic start. Well said "prof".
A D Kirby, Papamoa.
John Roughan's article on the Wellbeing Budget (NZ Herald, June 3) is symptomatic of why our future on planet Earth looks bleak. Roughan pushes the old maxim of growth in the economy for wellbeing. Unfortunately, we are historically at a time when this is no longer possible as we are overusing resources and are damaging the planet.
Roughan's biggest oxymoron was that we can only afford to consider "the luxury of looking at plastic bags" when the economy is going well. When scientists are saying that we have just 10 years (less now) to transform our economy and way of life before we sign up to long-term catastrophe, Roughan is saying full steam ahead with growth. Growth means more pollution, less resources and potential catastrophe through climate change and environmental degradation.
We have to remember that fauna and flora throughout the world is suffering from a form of genocide already, as are our oceans, in order to keep the growth aspect of our economies going. We can no longer rely on growth. I give the wellbeing budget a tick for the right direction. We must change. It is later than we think.
Niall Robertson, Balmoral.
The spurious argument the NRA makes that "all it takes is one good guy with a gun to stop one bad guy with a gun" rings hollow yet again. Note to NRA; I think the bad guys are winning.
Since Sandy Hook there have been at least 2080 mass shootings with 2346 killed and 8648 wounded. An even more heart-breaking statistic is that when perpetrators used high-capacity magazines or assault weapons, they were able to shoot 155 per cent more people resulting in 47 per cent more deaths. Just the facts. No candle-lit vigils needed here. I'm sure that will be cold comfort to the people in Virginia who now have to bury their loved ones.
As an American, I will categorically not cast my vote for any political party or individual who accepts campaign funds from the NRA and I will be asking them about their policies regarding gun reform. Do the rest of my fellow Americans have the courage to do the same?
Mary Hearn, Glendowie.
Why does Shane Kennedy (NZ Herald, May 31) and many others persist in calling for more money for the best teachers when such a system already exists?
Invented in 2014 by NZEI, the primary teachers' union, and reluctantly agreed to by the National government of the day, an attestation can be sought to be recognised and paid more as an "Advanced Classroom Expertise Teacher" (ACET); Ace-Teacher, if you like.
This allows a teacher to be paid more while still staying in the classroom instead of seeking advancement solely through moving into management, which was the career course preferred by the National Party.
Martin Ball, Kelston.
Sad I observe the disappearance of the adverb. One constant hears phrases used such as "dress warm", "drive safe", "finish strong", or "think positive". It is immediate clear that this is a trend followed assiduous by people, and promoted strong in spoken media. One wonders whether, perhaps, it is now taught wide by teachers in school? The adjective has general replaced the adverb, it seems. Should we try to resurrect the use of "ly" or allow the habit of dropping it to continue logical to its conclusion?
Derek Tovey, Glen Eden.
Letters: Climate change, Gun licensing and Brian Tamaki
Letters: Education system, healthy eating and gender oppression
Letters: House prices, gang patches and cheque books
Short & Sweet
I thought the Bible provided an infallible moral compass for Christians. Has God changed his mind on the subject?
Andrew Tichbon, Green Bay
David "What The" Seymour was back to his penguin best on DWTS on Monday night. Not a dancing bone in his body but his attitude is sublime.
Glenn Forsyth, Tāupo.
The Government is spending mega sums to significantly upgrade our motorways. When is it going to invest to educate drivers to keep left?
M Ellett, Albany.
Rather than a tax on sugar, the way to better outcomes might be to legislate a maximum quantity of sugar per 100 grams - let's try 5 grams to start with.
Peter Thomas, Hillcrest.
Reading about the unfortunate Rupeni Caucaunibuca reminds me of famed Northern Irish footballer George Best, who apparently spent 99 per cent of his substantial fortune on wild parties, gambling, booze and women - and the rest he just wasted.
Renton Brown, Pukekohe.
In its quest to fill rates coffers, the council doesn't seem to understand the need to retain good, arable land to provide for the future produce needs of Auckland's citizens.
Terry Cammell, Silverdale.
"Harms." What next? "Sheeps?"
Stewart Hawkins, St Heliers.