Here's the NBR's Victoria Young:
Read the whole thing. Fixing liability here and legislating around the Supreme Court ruling on leaky buildings might be important.
Read the whole thing. Fixing liability here and legislating around the Supreme Court ruling on leaky buildings might be important.
Now if this pans out, the New Zealand government should consider releasing the technology for everybody in the world to use, as New Zealand's substantive contribution to the fight against greenhouse gasses.
If everyone in the world were doing carbon trading or carbon taxes, we'd want to as well. But, realistically, if New Zealand were to disappear into outer space tomorrow, it's pretty unclear that the entire abolition of New Zealand's net greenhouse gas emissions would do much on aggregate warming outcomes. Maybe we'd delay the onset of any particular level of GHG accumulation by a half day over a century. In that case, New Zealand could perhaps do better by picking high variance plays despite their lower expected mean. Pour money into biotech research for low GHG pastoral systems and give the resulting technology away to anybody who wants to use it. Lower expected returns, but if it pans out, it could reduce GHG emissions by a heck of a lot more than NZ could achieve on its own via domestic incremental reductions in carbon or methane emissions.Some lotto investments are worthwhile.
A peer-reviewed study authored by Massey University scientists has claimed that worst-case scenario costs to society from environmental harm caused by farming could equal the economic benefits of the dairy industry, creating a "zero-sum" situation for the country.It's nice when news outlets ask economists for comment on "cost of" studies rather than just copying the initial press release.
However, the paper, titled NZ Dairy Farming -- Milking Our Environment for All Its Worth, has come under heavy criticism by economics academics approached by the New Zealand Herald today.
Their analysis stated that in a worst case scenario, using the limited number of impacts valued, the costs to society were approximately equal to the export revenue and GDP.
"In other words, the industry is a zero-sum gain for New Zealand if the costs are included," Dr Joy said.
The authors reported that the estimated cost of some environmental externalities surpasses the 2012 dairy export revenue of $11.6 billion and almost reached the combined export revenue and dairy's contribution to GDP in 2010 of $5 billion.
But academics have questioned the study's methodology and findings.
"The report does a good job in identifying some of the environmental harms from dairying, but, at least on a first reading, does not provide a reliable estimate of the value of those harms," said Dr Eric Crampton, head of research at the New Zealand
InstituteInitiative [correction added].
He believed some of the tallied costs used in the calculations -- such as harm a farmer might do to his or her own pasture through soil compaction where stocking rates were too high -- should have never been considered "external" costs, while other costs appeared "over-estimated".
"The high-end estimates of the costs of nitrogen leaching, estimated at over $10 billion, seem to assume we would need to remediate all water in New Zealand to a drinking water standard -- however, very few sites currently exceed nitrogen standards for drinking water."
Dr Crampton also took issue with the upper-bound cost of the second largest cost component factored into the report, national dairy greenhouse gas emissions, which was put at over $3 billion.
"But that figure cannot be relevant for policy without considering relative greenhouse-gas intensity of dairy production in different countries and without considering the alternative uses to which dairy land would be put if it were not in dairying -- and especially where the paper notes that dairy makes up half of New Zealand's agricultural emissions," he said.
"If every dairy cow in New Zealand disappeared, we would see more cows elsewhere and more beef and sheep production here. The net effect on greenhouse gas emissions is not particularly clear.
"Finally, the paper suggests that demand for New Zealand dairy product could be cut in half were New Zealand's agriculture viewed abroad as being less than clean and green.
"But estimated high-end costs of over $500 million should be accompanied by a clearer picture of how much worse things here would need to be before exports were really at risk."
Professor Frank Scrimgeour, director of the Institute for Business Research at Waikato University, slammed the research as "sloppy" and argued its bold claims could not be substantiated.
"The authors do not do any original data collection, estimation or modelling," he said.
"They synthesised existing data without ensuring that measurements are consistent through space or time.
"Foote, Joy and Death are right that there needs to be holistic conversation in New Zealand regarding performance of the dairy industry but papers like this do not enhance the conversation."
University of Waikato professor of agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth said it was "naive" to expect water quality in waterways could be restored to drinking water standards, and she noted people reading the study needed "to consider alternatives and relativities".
"This sort of research doesn't actually get us anywhere, and that's disappointing."
Here is an assessment from the Peterson Institute that Vietnam will be the biggest gainer from TPP. Do you get that, progressives? Poorest country = biggest gainer. Isn’t that what we are looking for? And if you are a deontologist, Vietnam is a country we have been especially unjust to in the past.Tyler's writing for an American audience, where TPP opposition is concentrated among the anti-trade left. But that's not the only source of opposition: some foreign opposition comes from the silly IP and tech provisions, though we won't really know what's all in there until the full deal is released.
Yes, I am familiar with the IP and tech criticisms of TPP, and I agree with many of them. But if you add those costs up, in utilitarian terms I doubt if they amount to more than a fraction of the potential benefit for the ninety million people of Vietnam. TPP is more of a “no brainer” than a close call.
Most generally, one of the big dangers today is “The Great Unraveling of Globalization.” Is the passing or the striking down of TPP more likely to contribute to that trend? People, you are allowed only three guesses on that one.
The NHS plans to dramatically increase rationing of patients’ access to care and treatment in an effort to balance its books, a new survey of health bosses reveals.So. We get tobacco excise taxes to defray the health costs of the public health system. You cannot opt out of the NHS but through the costly route of paying for NHS through your income taxes and excise taxes and then paying separately for private health care. Then smokers could be denied service because of the smoking.
Almost two in five of England’s 211 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are considering imposing new limits this year on eligibility for services such as IVF, footcare and hip and knee replacements.
Smokers and those who are obese will be among those denied surgery and other treatment, according to a survey of 80 CCG leaders conducted by the Health Service Journal, in an extension of the controversial policy of “lifestyle rationing”.
Boyle and Hill's paper is here. A couple fun bits:A $156-million Christchurch cycleway plan is under attack from two economists, who say the city council could buy new cars for every convert to cycling for the same amount of money.University of Canterbury finance professor Glenn Boyle and
PhDstudent James Hill have analysed the Christchurch City Council's business case for the major cycleways programme and say it is "excessively optimistic".Boyle said the 18,000 increase in cycling trips expected as a result of the new cycleway network roughly translated into an additional 9000 people cycling. For $156m, the council could buy all those people brand new Suzuki Altos."Every Christchurch household is faced with an average bill of at least $1100 in present value terms for facilities that are predicted to only attract a relatively small number of cyclists, will result in more cyclist accidents and deaths, have at best zero impact on congestion, and yield highly uncertain health benefits," the pair said.The cost of building Christchurch's proposed major cycleway network has jumped in price from an original estimate of $69m to $156m but a business case presented by the council earlier this year claimed every dollar invested would give a $5 to $8 return.Boyle and Hill studied the assumptions those figures were based on and have concluded the likely return was almost certainly less than $2 and probably less than $1.
The overall prognosis looks grim. Every Christchurch household is faced with an average bill of at least $1100 in present value terms for facilities that are predicted to attract only a relatively small and insignificant number of new cyclists, will result in more cyclist accidents and deaths, have at best zero impact on congestion, and yield highly uncertain health benefits. At current expected capital costs and cycleway uptake, it would be cheaper to provide every projected new cyclist with a Suzuki Alto.I still would love to see a cycleway from New Brighton along the abandoned Avon River through to downtown, but not at any price.
University of Canterbury geography professor Simon Kingham said he had read Boyle and Hill's research and believed they had gone into it determined to pick holes in the business case.I tend to think that Christchurch could use a few more people willing to pick holes in shonky business cases.
Pro-life utilitarians are very scarce. A philosophy professor recently told me that he knows of zero pro-life utilitarians in the entire philosophy profession.
This is deeply puzzling. While I'm not a utilitarian, the utilitarian case against abortion seems very strong. Consider: Even if a pregnant woman deeply resents her pregnancy, she is only pregnant for nine months. How could this outweigh the lifetime's worth of utility the unwanted child gets to enjoy if he's carried to term?I expect it hinges on your model of whether abortion simply changes the identity of which children a woman bears or the number of children that would be born.
At the newly launched Bandwidth Theatre on the corner of Sherbrook and Ellice, a new film from New Zealand has the potential to show aboriginal Canadian filmmakers the way.The story notes that Torrie's writing a Canadian adaptation of Once Were Warriors.
Since it opened late in 2014, the Bandwidth has been playing an assortment of movies, from low-budget horror to high-minded documentaries. But as it's connected to the Adam Beach Film Institute, it also has an agenda, under the stewardship of founding partners Beach, producer Jim Compton and filmmaker Jeremy Torrie, to inspire young filmmakers, especially young First Nations filmmakers.
In that capacity, The Dead Lands is not just an exciting movie, it's a fine example of how an indigenous culture can tell its stories on film, Torrie says.
"The Maori are 20 years ahead of us as far as cinematic storytelling," Torrie says. "We absolutely should be seeing these kind of films here. We've got all these great locations. The problem is they've had the opportunity to make films; we've not had that opportunity."
"In New Zealand, they have a much greater budget with their equivalent of Telefilm Canada, the New Zealand Film Commission," Torrie says. "They also have a language fund in Maori, that organization has been around for 15 years or more and they've become another important equity source for Maori film, whereas we can't do that yet. There's a lot of institutional barriers."Always interesting to note how other countries see what goes on here.
In New Zealand, the remnants of Maori tradition are primarily visible to the world in rugby matches, where the national team, the All Blacks, perform the haka, a dance designed to terrorize opponents, going back to warrior tradition.The haka would be the bit known outside of New Zealand. Inside of New Zealand, well, it's a bit more than that.
In Auckland, more than 33,000 houses were registered as unoccupied in the most recent data from 2013. A breakdown shows about a third had residents away. The remaining 22,152 properties are listed as empty.The rest of the article is pretty heavy on anecdote. Little of it made sense to me: why would you forgo rental earnings in a house you'd decided to buy as an investment or bolt-hole? Maybe legislation being too tenant-friendly could do it, but it seemed odd.
Who owns them and why no one lives there is information that’s not readily apparent, although ask around and you’ll hear all sorts of theories – from land banking by foreign investors who see New Zealand as a bargain-priced bolt hole to families future-proofing their children’s education by buying a second house in a desirable school zone.
Whatever the real story, it’s not that the owners (or tenants) just happened to be out when the collectors knocked at the door. Census workers are given clear criteria on the various definitions of an “unoccupied” house and need evidence no one lives there (the appearance of the property, talking to neighbours) before it’s officially classified.
2.3 Very small increase in number of unoccupied dwellingsIf the number of unoccupied houses increased by 30 from 2006 to 2013, the proportion of unoccupied houses would have dropped significantly. Further, if there are about 470,000 dwellings in Auckland and about 22,000 were unoccupied at the time of census, that's under 5%. That's not really inconsistent with houses being empty during sale or between tenancies, is it?
There was almost no change in the number of unoccupied dwellings in Auckland between 2006 and 2013 – the number increased by only 30 to a total of 33,360 across the region. This was a significantly smaller increase than the previous inter-censal period, when the number of unoccupied dwellings had increased 3,744, or 12.7 per cent, and was also significantly smaller than other regions across New Zealand.
This could be a reflection of the housing shortage in Auckland at a time of economic slow-down and a contraction in the construction sector.
In 2013, the local board areas with the highest number of unoccupied dwellings were:
• Rodney - 4,185 unoccupied dwellings
• Waitematā – 3,696
• Hibiscus and Bays – 2,274
• Franklin – 2,055
• Orākei – 1,929
A third of unoccupied dwellings in Auckland (33.6%) were due to the residents being away, while two thirds (66.4%) were empty. The five local board areas with the highest proportions of empty dwellings were:
• Great Barrier – 87.4 per cent of unoccupied dwellings were empty (396 empty dwellings)
• Rodney - 80.6 per cent (3,375 empty dwellings)
• Waiheke – 73.4 per cent (1,323 empty dwellings)
• Ōtara-Papatoetoe – 73.0 per cent (615 empty dwellings)
• Franklin – 72.8 per cent (1,497 empty dwellings)
Four nationally representative survey samples collected in 2006, 2010, and 2011 indicate that over half of the American population consistently endorse some kind of conspiratorial narrative about a current political event or phenomenon and that these attitudes are predicted by supernatural, paranormal, and Manichean sentiments. These findings suggest that conspiracism is not only an important element in American political culture, but also is expressive of some latent and powerful organizing principles behind American mass opinion.So say J. Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood in the AJPS, in an article I missed when it came out last October.
|TABLE 1 Percentage of Americans Agreeing with Various Conspiracy Theories, 2011|
|Conspiratorial Narrative||Heard Before?||Strongly Agree||Agree||Neither||Disagree||Strongly Disagree|
|The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not part of a campaign to fight terrorism, but was driven by oil companies and Jews in the U.S. and Israel (Iraq War)||44||6||13||33||22||27|
|Certain U.S. government officials planned the attacks of September 11, 2001, because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East (Truther)||67||7||12||22||18||41|
|President Barack Obama was not really born in the United States and does not have an authentic Hawaiian birth certificate (Birther)||94||11||13||24||14||38|
|The current financial crisis was secretly orchestrated by a small group of Wall Street bankers to extend the power of the Federal Reserve and further their control of the world’s economy (Financial Crisis)||47||8||17||38||20||17|
|Vapor trails left by aircraft are actually chemical agents deliberately sprayed in a clandestine program directed by government officials (Chem Trails)||17||4||5||28||21||42|
|Billionaire George Soros is behind a hidden plot to destabilize the American government, take control of the media, and put the world under his control (Soros)||31||9||10||44||16||21|
|The U.S. government is mandating the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs because such lights make people more obedient and easier to control (CFLB)||17||4||7||24||24||41|
|Note: N = 1,935 cases.|
|Source: Modules of the 2011 Cooperative Congressional Election Surveys.|
So how might this affect New Zealand consumers? Hardening or toughening soft targets could mean that if you are going to the mall, you might have your bag checked at the entrances, and there might be restrictions on how long you can stay in the carpark. Employees might require security passes, and purchases might be checked on leaving the mall.
If you're going to the cinema, there could be more security screening, including bag-checking machines. You might see more CCTV or facial recognition software being used inside the mall and in carparks that are watching all your movements. Security or police staff might ask for proof of identification, carparks might be occasionally restricted directly under or on top of the mall, and we might see more information in the media informing customers about raised security threats at particular locations.I have a proposal.
“This enhanced demand at domestic retailers not only results in increased producer surpluses, but firm growth leading to increased employment. Jobs created by a reduction in the de minimis threshold increase the economy’s productive capacity, clearly benefiting the rest of the country. Enhanced domestic employment results in increased consumer spending, and through the multiplier effect, enhanced growth throughout the economy.”Emphasis added. Jeez.
Andrew Little is right to be worried about the deadweight costs of this tax. The extra 0.33 percent that workers and firms pay in ACC levies would be better left in employer and employee pockets.
The Infometrics analysis uses standard Treasury methods where raising a dollar in tax is assumed to cost the country $0.20 over and above the value of the raised dollar: $0.20 in ‘deadweight’ costs, as economists put it. These are not primarily the administrative costs of collecting taxes but rather the costs the economy faces when a payroll tax makes employees more expensive for employers and makes employment less rewarding for employees.
An extra 0.33% in payroll tax will not be a make-or-break issue for most employees or employers, but would be enough to kill just under 600 jobs in a country with just under 2.4 million employed persons. As Little warns, excess taxation by ACC “costs jobs and growth and holds New Zealand back.”
But while we are considering changes to ACC to avoid the 0.33 percent excess tax, we could perhaps consider more ambitious changes. In particular, does New Zealand really need strongly prescriptive workplace safety rules if ACC premiums are set correctly? ACC offers reasonable discounts and penalty rates based on firms’ claims histories, with additional discounts for complying with best practice standards in safety.
The New Zealand Initiative’s Dr Bryce Wilkinson provided back-of-the-envelope indicative calculations thatthe additional costs of more stringent scaffolding regulations alone could be of the order of $180 million. If ACC has its levies set correctly, construction companies (and others) would already have strong incentive to provide a safe work environment, and could tailor their safety practices to reduce accidents by whatever method is most cost-effective in their particular situations rather than having to comply with standards that might not always be fit for purpose.
If Little could ensure that ACC gets its pricing right, and uses that mechanism to help ensure worker safety rather than prescriptive standards, the benefits to the economy could be much greater than the savings from reducing the average ACC levy from 2.16 percent to 1.83 percent.
Go read the whole thing. He also hits on whether any tax advantage lies with unleveraged owner-occupiers or those nasty investors.
For a better alcohol-themed use of the word, watch the Canadian classic Strange Brew. Bob & Doug McKenzie go to Elsinore Brewery with a mouse in an empty bottle, trying to wheedle their way into getting a free case. After inadvertently stumbling on Brewmaster Smith's plans on using a special addictive drug in the beer as part of his plans for world domination, Doug McKenzie finds himself with Pam Elsinore, trapped in one of the beer vats, about to be drowned. Brewmaster Smith opens the vat, saying
How ironic. You came here with a mouse in a bottle. Now you are the mouse. ... It's really too bad you won't be around to see the whole world become addicted to Elsinore beer. In a few hours I will introduce my special formula to the public at Oktoberfest. When they drink enough, they will do whatever I tell them.See? It's not just coincidence. It's coincidence with that special kinda twist.
The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.Via @clairlemon
I have never been a fan of the old prayer wishing confusion upon one’s opponents. In a real war, your enemy’s confusion helps. But in policy battles, it rather seems to me that that confusion hurts everybody.I hadn't known it at the time, but John Creedy and co-authors have run the numbers on this one. Their abstract, in a forthcoming NZEP piece:
Take GST. New Zealand is blessed with what is about the world’s cleanest value-added tax. Australia’s GST is in dire need of modernisation – their tax exemption regime around food, for one, makes ridiculous and arcane distinctions between bread and crackers and around just what gets to count as a pizza, as noted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this week.
Nevertheless, it is not hard to find local advocates of exempting ‘healthy’ food from GST to change peoples’ diets, or for exempting food entirely to help poorer people. Both proposals are hopelessly confused: they are very costly ways to fail to achieve the desired objectives.
To start with, so long as richer people spend more money on food than do poorer people, exempting food from GST does more to help richer people than it does to help poorer people. If your goal is to help poorer families be able to afford more food, policies that reduce the cost of housing leave more space in the budget – but we will come to that later. Food exemptions from GST are a very expensive way of helping poorer people as compared to just using our existing income transfer programmes – or making jobs easier to get.
Further, exemption regimes make a mess of GST accounting. If you think that we should tax people until they eat the way you want them to eat, it is better done with an excise regime than by wrecking GST. We will be taking on the case for and against food taxes later in the year.
This paper investigates the welfare effects on New Zealand households of zero-rating food in a goods and services tax (GST). The detailed effects, for a range of household types, are investigated using Household Economic Survey data. Demand responses to consumer price changes are estimated and welfare changes, in terms of equivalent variations, are obtained. Comparisons are also made across clusters, consisting of groups of households with similar characteristics. A tax change is found to produce a very small amount of progressivity in the GST. Redistribution is from households without children and with high total expenditure to households with children and low total expenditure, and towards older households.You get far more progressivity, if that's what you want, by transferring more money to poor people. Their bottom line?
The analysis supports earlier studies suggesting that the use of zero-rating in an indirect tax structure provides a poor redistributive instrument compared with direct taxes and transfers
Stuff reports:Wouldn't it make more sense to have a prisoner reintegration regime, for those with very clear histories of offending while intoxicated, barring their consumption of alcohol or other drugs?
A man believed to be New Zealand’s worst recidivist drink-driver will be released from prison next month, despite describing himself as a “danger to the community”.This would suggest he has driven drunk on several thousand occasions.
Raymond Charles Laing was jailed for three years in 2012 after notching up his 26th conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was also convicted for the 31st time for driving while disqualified.
Drink Driving Interventions Trust co-director Roger Brooking said punishment for the offence in New Zealand was lenient compared to many other countries, and perhaps there was a need to keep certain people behind bars.That’s not a bad suggestion. Only use it for the worst of the worst, but if they fail to respond to anything else, that may be the only way to stop them killing someone while driving drunk.
“In terms of dealing with the problem on a larger scale, I think there needs to be a law change so judges can impose preventive detention on them, so they can lock them up in prison for the rest of their lives.
“We do this to people who sexually offend, why can’t we do this to drunk drivers?”
The device looks like one of the GPS-tracker ones worn by those on home detention: it can detect alcohol consumption transdermally.
Turning the Tide of Drunk Driving Through 24/7 AccountabilityIn 2005, then-South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long launched a statewide program aimed at tackling the state’s epidemic DUI issue. At the time, South Dakota had one of the highest DUI rates in the nation, with 21.6% of adults admitting to having driven drunk. In addition, 75% of individual involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.15 or higher.In the 24/7 Program model, every single DUI offender is either tested twice daily (seven days a week) at a breath-testing center, or they wear SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring technology. The majority of the testing is offender funded, and a state indigent fund subsidizes costs for participants who qualify. The most important element of the program is simple, yet effective: If you fail or miss a test, or you have a confirmed drinking event on SCRAM CAM, you are swiftly, immediately escorted to the local jail.
Beer snobbery has reached a new height in the capital, with a proposed bottle store granted a license only if it sticks to selling top-shelf brews.Were this to become a trend, it would be minimum alcohol unit pricing via a rather dubious process.
And approval could signal a big change for buying a drink throughout the capital, as regulators seek to clamp down on selling cheap alcohol and "nudge" people away from binge drinking.Plans to set-up a new off-license, to be known as Capital Craft Beer Co, on Manners St in Wellington were initially opposed by Police and Regional Public Heath during a district licensing committee hearing this morning....However both the police and regional public health agreed to drop their opposition after the bottle store owner, James Tucker, agreed to sell only high quality alcohol and close at 9pm.
A bar owner fighting to keep his licence believed he was targeted by police because of his opposition to stricter alcohol laws, the Dunedin district licence committee heard.Dave Goosselink provides some relevant context.
So why is Birthcare maternity hospital having to fight to renew its liquor license?Interesting that the police aren't supporting Auckland DHB's push in this case.
I agree entirely with her assessment.
"Yes, the labour market is a bit easier in New Zealand at present than it is in Australia, although at 5.7% our unemployment rate is not something to be complacent about. But nothing has happened to even begin to reverse the decades-long widening in the now very large gap between New Zealand and Australian incomes and productivity. And favourable commentary from the other side of the Tasman will be a false friend if it distracts from the serious economic challenges that our own policymakers should be grappling with.I would note, though, that that 5.7% unemployment rate is in the midst of strengthening labour force participation.