Peters' fantasy political football
Winston Peters' recent reaction to the Greens' notion of introducing a wealth tax policy as "pixie dust" needs rebutting (Peters hits at political allies, Chronicle, July 20).
First, Mr Peters must already have been well aware that an international group of 83 multimillionaires/billionaires had addressed a public letter to all democratic governments suggesting that - yep - a wealth tax or their like is the only realistic way of defending social democratic states from the disasters of nature and anti-democratic movements.
The latter of those have already elevated the populist/rightist governments of Boris Johnson's Britain and Donald Trump's United States, among others.
It is telling that Winston Peters' NZ First party is calling on the Brexit engineers of the British referenda and political mayhem to aid him in retaining the power of political spoiler in the diminishing strength of our own democratic system.
It is also ironic that Peters seems unaware of the public statement by 18 of our own super rich (one of whom was a signatory of the international letter above), echoing the call for a wealth tax.
For those wanting more professional material, there is a critique in the May 20 edition of the London Review of Books, of Thomas Piketty's latest analysis of capitalism, globalisation and economics. Again, he sees a wealth tax as a needful balance.
These fellas are no pixies. I'm of a mind that it is Winston Peters who is the mischievous leprechaun in the mix!
Cannabis and psychosis
Mary Cannon, in her opinion piece in Tuesday's Chronicle (Cannabis direct threat to young minds, life prospects ... and IQ, August 4) has her mind fairly well set to the fact cannabis use in young people causes psychosis.
The Dunedin study, carried out as a longitudinal study of 1000 people, which Mary was part of for a short term two decades ago, has just released some data around cannabis use and psychotic illness.
Unfortunately, in the article, the writer has left out some detail from the latest study publication which is important and that is that a very small subset of humans carry a genetic predisposition to possibly experience some kind of psychotic disorder during their lifetime.
From the Dunedin and Christchurch studies, it was determined that of this small subset, those that use cannabis before the age of 15 increase the risk of this occurring by a factor of 1.5 or 2.
The facts Mary was quoting were from the same study two decades ago but which have been updated as data accumulation has progressed.
It's disappointing that a scientist has decided to pick and choose what data they use. It's also disappointing that as a scientist, they do not discuss causation and effect.
There is still too little data to determine whether this small subset is using cannabis to treat their symptoms, that have already started or not.
Articles such as the opinion piece yesterday and pieces I have read from our elected MP need to go further and discuss whether extending prohibition is truly effective or whether we would in fact be better off having a regulated industry where products and supply lines can be controlled and where we can put emphasis on education around use of the products developed from the cannabis plant.