No surprise Kim hastily arming up

North Korea has a massive US army on its border performing war manoeuvres. These forces you can be sure are equipped with the very latest in tactical conventional and nuclear weapons. Off the coast a mighty flotilla of US ships has enough nuclear capability to obliterate a dozen countries. On the US mainland a multitude of intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of reaching Korea.

All this from the US, a country that has consistently over many years found excuses to invade a multitude of countries with huge loss of civilian lives. Add in now a US president running on ego and bereft of any diplomatic skills. I think there is perhaps some justification for Kim Jong Un to be somewhat paranoid and intent on becoming nuclear armed.

Vince West, Milford.

Lifting wages

The care workers' victory is only stage one of a movement that hopefully will bring some equilibrium to a society that reeks of feudalism. For too many years the rich have got richer and the poor poorer. Wages in real terms especially for the lower-paid have lost ground in relation to a reasonable standard of living.

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The Government has not helped the situation by siding with business rather than legislating fairly for all. The gap has now become so great that any quick move to reach relativity would be detrimental to business and the economy as a whole. There is not the slightest doubt the minimum wage requires adjustment but to do this Budgets must include these calculations. It would be significant if both the Government and the Opposition offered up a financial plan on how this problem could be solved.

Reg Dempster, Albany.

Care work

Once again Mike Hosking shows his ignorance of the need for fair wages to be paid to New Zealanders doing a job he would turn his nose up at. Does he think for one minute that he will always be able to care for himself? Will his wife be prepared to do some of the work these low-paid, hardworking mainly women do? I think not.

Life happens, sometimes with drastic consequences and help is needed. The work provided by home help workers is gratefully accepted by their clients for the most part. A lot of the work is unpleasant, some of the patients are not always easy to deal with but these people turn up and do the work allotted to them unpleasant or not. They deserve to be paid fairly.

S. Glover, Turangi.

Bad floors

Several homes in flood-hit Edgecumbe were rendered uninhabitable simply because particle board floors quickly turned to a sort of swollen blotting paper when wet. Maybe it is time manufacturers were put on notice to produce flooring panels that, at the very least, have the same water-resistant qualities as conventional wooden floor boards.

Peter Culpan, Te Atatu Peninsula.

Making most of MMP

As the election approaches we will hear much of rights and wrongs of deals to maintain support parties in Epsom and Ohariu, and the Labour-Green coalition arrangement, but these could become sideshows if National showed some real ambition. Consider if the National Party became a list-only party, and another party, lets call it Nationale (the "e" for electorate), were set up to contest electorate seats only. Nationale would enter a Labour-Greens type of arrangement with National.

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The National Party on current polling will get about 42.5 per cent of the party vote, entitling it to 51 seats. As a list-only party these would all be list seats. If Nationale won all the 39 electorates currently held by National there would be 90 National-aligned members. Under MMP rules there would be a massive overhang of 39 seats, giving a total of 160 MPs, but National/Nationale would have a comfortable majority.

I can see no real difference between this arrangement, other than scale and ambition, and that proposed by Labour and the Greens to "work together" after the election, or with the deals previously made with Act and Peter Dunne.

Of course, we would have to add more seating in the chamber to accommodate the overhang, but the electorate may finally see just how open to rorting the MMP system is.

Neil Christensen, Pukekohe.

Forests not cause

The idea that Tuhoe and DoC are not managing the catchments of native forests and pest control, thereby causing the recent floods, is ridiculous. The Rangitaiki River headwaters start in the vicinity of the Napier Taupo highway, travel through farmland and man-made forests and meet up with the Whirinaki, which flows through Minginui and has tributaries from Te Urewera, which is steep country. The streams were already running above average from recent rain and a dry summer.

The fact that Cyclone Debbie decided to make her path that way had nothing to do with deer damage. Let the native forests look after themselves, there are more hunters around now than ever. Stags may rub a few trees in the rutting season, the rest of the time deer graze on the edge of rivers and clearings.

Keith Wilson, Opotiki.

Taxing water

It is unbelievable the hysteria of those demanding water bottlers be charged for the water. I've seen claims that billions of litres of water are exported. Where do they get these figures? The Ministry of Environment puts the amount of water exported at 8.7 million litres a year. A 10c a litre tax would bring in $870,000 a year.

To collect would require administration, monitoring, communication and of course HR and PR, policy analysts and iwi liaison officers. Also regional offices with monitoring teams. Then there are office leases and fit-outs. A sum of $10m a year might just cover this.

Water bottlers may not pay for their water but still have to pump the water, filter it, purify it, buy and sterilise the bottles and of course bottle, package and ship it. They employ staff, pay wages, payroll and company tax, ACC levies, power, rates, leases ... If water bottling is supposedly so profitable then I suggest that some of the chattering classes set up their own plants.

Richard Prince, Tauranga.

Pass rates

It was pleasing to see reports in Monday's Herald of schools lifting their NCEA results through innovation and hard work. However, it is curious that you reported on participation rates for Level 2, when the Ministry of Education insists schools report their roll rates. These can paint a rather different picture, as some schools are very likely to have not entered students who are not likely to succeed that year.

This is not altogether dishonest, as some students are highly unlikely to achieve Level 2 as a Year 12 student, so not entering them for 60 credits is quite valid. It does, though, paint a slightly misleading picture, especially for those schools boasting 100 per cent pass rates. What should be published are the results for all students in that year level.

Also interesting is that, taking this participation rate into account, some of the more "prestigious" schools which do not feature in the Top 5 for decile, claim the majority of their students are entered for Cambridge or Baccalaureate. Fair enough, but should not their pass rates still compare favourably with the rest of the country if they are only reporting participation rates?

Catherine Blomkamp, Napier.

Staff buses

Schools have been efficiently transporting 30-40 children efficiently and on time since buses were invented, helping easing traffic congestion. Why don't big companies such as Countdown and Bunnings provide a similar-sized bus for their employees or at least map their employees' locations as a feasibility study?

Once so implemented, a bus would have two very important and positive side effects - easing traffic congestion and, presuming their employees are in the relatively low-paid bracket, removing one of their major expenses from their no doubt very tight budgets.

Auckland's motorways being they way they are, employers soon may have no other choice.

Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.

Street smokers

While the problem of beggars in the city continues to rankle, I discovered another nuisance on my first foray into town recently. I just could not escape the multitude of smokers who emerge from the shops and buildings to satisfy their filthy habit. It was so bad, I could barely manage to find any fresh air. As an asthmatic, it was hellish to say the least.

When or if someone moves the beggars along, could they please take the smokers with them? It was absolutely disgraceful and a terrible look for our city.

Christine Wroblenski, Pakuranga.