Letter of the week, Mary Hearn, Glendowie
Regarding the escalating tit-for-tat between the US and Iran, we have been inundated with experts offering varied political analyses and telling us what strategies need to be implemented to avoid further conflict in an area of the world where international diplomacy is sometimes achieved by good luck rather than skillful negotiation. Whilst all the chest thumping and "my missile is bigger than your missile" is going on, can we please remember the 176 innocent lives lost in what now appears to be an errant Iranian missile attack.
Tragically, there will always be civilian casualties in any conflict, but globally the message needs to be sent that hubris and an excess of ego are not justifiable rationales for going to war.
• The theories and contradictions in Ukraine Airlines' crash in Iran
• Premium - Nadia Sal: Iranian community mourns in disbelief following aircraft tragedy
• Ukrainian plane crash in Iran: Missile strike or terrorism possible causes
• Iran plane crash: Expert questions what caused plane to crash
After reading and reflecting on Simon Wilson's comments about the steps needed to fix some of the problems besetting New Zealand (Weekend Herald, January 11) I came across two other items in your paper that, to me, were indicative of the malaise that besets this country. They could very well have slotted neatly into the Wilson article.
The first item was the cover story about the charity boss being given up to 16 weeks paid leave each year to play golf and who was allowed to use charitable funds for membership of exclusive Auckland clubs.
What makes them think that the top brass in the organisation are entitled to out-of-this-world perks as well as Alice in Wonderland salaries, bonuses and incentives? And what has happened to the concept of accountability from people in the corporate governing role?
The second item was the report emanating from that bastion of corporate excellence, (and flash name) the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, claiming the Government's decision to raise the minimum wage this year is expected to result in 6500 fewer jobs being created – all because the wage rate moves from starvation to malnutrition level.
Our central government politicians would do well to note carefully what is really happening on the streets across the planet. And while they are about it, a review of the level of personal taxation in this country would not go amiss.
Bill Conroy, Tauranga.
Working for families
Simon Wilson undertook a difficult task and offered a laudable and succinct analysis of why "this country is not in good shape" (Weekend Herald, January 11. Unfortunately in describing Working for Families as "a top-up to the working poor" he perpetrates a misunderstanding. Deceptively named, Working for Families is a fundamental part of our social security system, an investment in its future citizens based on the knowledge that a society in "good shape" supports both the young and the old.
Never is NZ Superannuation described as a "top-up" for over 65-year-olds in paid work. However, it is true that WFF is failing our poorest families. Their children are denied an important part of it. This insidious discrimination means an extra $72.50/week is paid only to families who meet arbitrarily set hours of weekly paid work hours and who are not accessing any benefit. Imagine how helpful that payment could be to the many families with young children, forced to queue at foodbanks and go into debt to feed their children. Such support acknowledges that parenting is work - deeply demanding and hugely important work - which is valued highly in countries that are "in good shape".
Janfrie Wakim, Child Poverty Action Group.
Neville Dickson (Weekend Herald, January 11) notes the very dear razor blades at supermarkets where he pays $31 for a pack of four Gillette Razor blades.
I paid the same until two months ago, when a chap at the razor blades in Countdown New Lynn said "just go to the Shaving Shop up the arcade and get them for $14.99". I did, but bought two packs for less cost than one pack at Countdown.
I did ask Countdown why it's so dear there but got no reply.
The new packs of improved blades at the Shaving Shop are now $16 but I bet supermarkets are now more than $31, so why do supermarkets mark this essential product up much more than 100 per cent on the cost?
Murray Hunter, Titirangi.
I suppose, if a man does not want to pay $31 for a set of razors, he could grow a beard. That is his choice.
In fact we all have choices. There are things that we all have to navigate when it comes to being the gender we have been assigned with.
There are many examples I could list, but I would probably get lynched for doing so, therefore I will continue to buy packets of $6 razors, save myself $25 in the process and hope that I go bald soon so I don't have to even get a haircut once I'm on the pension.
John Ford, Taradale.
Kent Millar's suggestion (Weekend Herald, January 11) of comparing incomes and expenditure of boomers to today, was excellent, however, I'm not sure that an $80 weekly income was accurate for most. Converted from UK pounds to NZ dollars at 2:1, at 18 my income dropped from $20 a week as a print room supervisor, to $16 when I went to work for the city council as a photographic assistant and printer.
It rose a year later to $20 when I left to join another private company.
At 21, I hit the adult wage when joining the UK prison service on $28 a week. Six years later, it had risen to the very top of the pay scale at a staggering $46 a week, so Kent's $80 a week appears to be way off.
Friends were often articled accountants, bankers, trade apprentices etc, on no more than $5 a week until they were 21.
At 27, I left Her Majesty's Prisons and was single on $70 a week, working for a building renovation company - with a mortgage that had risen suddenly from 7 per cent to 11 per cent. I know exactly where my money went – struggling to survive.
Ray Green, Birkenhead.
The reporting on Max Ritchie (Weekend Herald, January 11) reminds me of the late history professor Keith Sinclair's retort on being quizzed about his three months annual leave (which I understand is standard practice of all university professors in New Zealand): "I do all of my best thinking on the tennis court."
Likewise, Ritchie might well do the same on the golf course. The anomaly of course comes with politicians - of whom, try as I might, can find no information on their annual leave which seems to have mysteriously disappeared but having been a civil servant once I'm willing to bet it is about two months or 61 days or thereabouts.
So if Keith Sinclair's synopsis is correct we might be better served by our politicians if they too like Max Ritchie had 82 days off to play golf or tennis.
Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
What an arrangement (Weekend Herald, January 11) pay of $160,000; extensive leave to play golf; a paid honeymoon and a generous leave package at the end.
It reeks of an old boys' club set up to use the donations given to what should be a reputable cause. Max Ritchie and his colleagues should be held accountable for this as any normal employee would and should be. He should also be forced to recompense the foundation of the money used to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Paul Beck, West Harbour.
A quick word
What is a charitable organisation doing with a $75 million war chest, while still calling for donations from members of the public? Peter Martyn, Hamilton.
Letters: Religion in schools, e-scooters, unions, youth voting, climate change and LeRoys Bush
Letters: Teachers' pay, Ōwairaka, youth voting, Trivago and Donald Trump
Letters: Political education, Iran, regional fuel tax and Trivago
I would have thought, if you were trying to raise millions for Neurological Research, the two best places to be would be The Royal Auckland Golf Club and The Northern Club. Graham Wall, Ponsonby.
Everyone should read Simon Wilson's review "This Broken Country" (Weekend Herald, January 11) to understand how and why we got to where we are, and what needs to happen from here. Susan Maiava, Orewa.
Wilson writes that there is no nationwide outrage; I am outraged, Simon. Keep on informing (me) and inspiring (politicians). Belinda Freeman, Hamilton.
What a cheek Anton Matthew has complaining about the Watties advertising when he has managed to "take the mickey" out of the English language with the name of his shop. Sue Gallahar, Mangere East.
"Fush" instead of "Fish" is okay, but anything Māori is sacrosanct? Craig Forsberg, Northpark.
Correspondent Kent Millar was a lucky boy if he got paid $80. In 1968, I was earning $26 per week as pharmacy apprentice. Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
About 74 years ago, another American divorcee was causing havoc within the Royal House of Windsor. No crown involved this time but similarities are obvious. Margaret Wyatt, Tauranga.
Does your correspondent realise she is spending more on one haircut than many Aucklanders have to feed their families for a week? Linda Lang, Henderson.
When our soldiers return from Australia they should be handed their guns and sent to Otago to deal with our problem. H E H Perkins, Botany Downs.
How far would sea levels drop if all the "empty" offshore (and perhaps some onshore) oil-wells were unplugged and allowed to fill up with sea water? Gary Andrews, Mt Maunganui.
Has Brexit turned into Rexit? Axel Hansen, Auckland Central.
It was with some surprise that the world was still spinning on its axis after being brought out of an induced coma that was necessary after receiving Harry and Meghan's news that they wanted to lead something resembling a normal life. Reg Dempster,Albany.