The tail’s preparing to wag the dog

So how long before the Parliamentary dog figure out how to bite its tail?

The proponents of MMP have a very good argument. Sections of the community who were marginalised under First Past the Post now have a voice. That’s certainly true of Maori, the Greens, and Winston First’s rapidly dying out blue rinse brigade. To a degree it’s a good thing.

How long before it becomes an anchor around the legislative neck and makes government impossible?

Where will it all end?

Perhaps a Gray Power party to boost my NZ Super. What about a Kate Sheppard Party with a persondate to banish manholes to Personchuria. Can we do without a Jockstrap Party to declare the Rugby World Cup ours as of right? Definitely a need for a Petrolheads’ Party for the promotion of phallic exhaust pipes for the under-endowed and a Wouldn’t Work in an Iron Lung Party for the equitable redistribution of filthy capitalistic gains.

There’s a crying need for a Who Needs a Real Job Party for dumped retired MPs whose only experience of the real world is teaching or practising law or a combination of the two. Hey, I’m not knocking teachers. I just think that they should have 10 years in the general workforce before they get the job. Then I think that we should double the pay pool for those who accept results-based remuneration.

Not knocking lawyers, or real estate sales folk either. They’ll keep.

:o)

An RSA Party would be a good idea. We retired servicemen and servicewomen (servicepersons? Aaaarrgghhh!) could have our superannuation payments quadrupled to match the sweetheart deal that MPs have given themselves. Yeah, bears thinking about. Free air travel too. Where’s the phone?

Seriously though

There’s every chance that the Maori Party could decide who forms a government in this country for the foreseeable future. Not too frightening a prospect at present. Their views are quite moderate – even sensible – on most matters. But is it a satisfactory situation to have the two parties of choice for 80 or 90% of voters marginalised in this way by 5% or 6% of voters?

Is it right that Winston First should trout on about the “baubles of office” and then scurry after the Czarina’s breadcrumb bribery like a rat up a drainpipe.

It will be a mess. For years Maori were marginalised because a large proportion of Labour votes were concentrated in their four electorates. FPP was a disaster for Maori. They voted Labour. Labour ignored them. Now they’ll have some muscle. It may be justice, but it’s not a satisfactory situation for the country.

What’s the alternative?

None as long as the Czarina’s around. If less strident and more moderate heads prevail in both major parties there’s always the possibility of a grand coalition.

Don’t scoff. The inevitable convergence of Left and Right wing policies in all democracies means that Labour and national have far more in common with each other than they have with the Greens or New Zealand First or the Maori Party.

Seems to me that Labour and national working together could accomplish something very worthwhile.

Hard to get good help

The $1000 router repair

When your computer packs up and you’re not a techie type you’re stuck with taking it to someone who’ll charge you very high hourly rates. Sadly, many quite simple repairs take so long that the cost of repair comes to more than your beige box is worth.

It’s not necessarily the fault of the repair person. Often the problem is very difficult and time-consuming to identify. If it involves reinstalling Windows and your software it’s going to take a while.

If it’s a compatibility problem or an intermittent fault, the techie may, justifiably, take the easy route and tell you that you need a new motherboard. That may not be totally true, but it may be the cheapest option.

If your computer is more than 5 years old, even replacing the motherboard may cost more than your machine is worth unless you’re willing and able to do your own Windows re-installation.

I had problems with my Belkin wireless router recently. It wouldn’t play nicely with Vista on my desktop. Took me several days and a lot of stress to sort out.

In the navy we gave such pestilential devices the always effective “float test”. With current laws on pollution of the ocean that’s probably not a goer anymore. :o)

Ask the experts

So I asked the maker for help.

I’d have had more joy asking my maker.

Firstly, Belkin suggested updating the firmware. I’d already thought of that, but couldn’t find it on the Net. Unfortunately the experts at Belkin couldn’t either: they gave me the wrong link for it. Following their incorrect advice and loading the wrong firmware graduated me from a medium level problem to a total catastrophe.

If I hadn’t been on a tight budget, at that stage I’d have bought a new router, but I persevered and the nice Indian lady at their help desk (I use the term help loosely) told me that I had to change the router from automatic to a specific DNS address.

Which, of course, was totally incorrect. I wasn’t absolutely sure that she was wrong so I went off on another wild goose chase.

Finally finding the right firmware fixed the problem, no thanks to Belkin, but it took me days to get to that point. Google to the rescue. If I’d been charging the job out at commercial rates the fix would’ve been several times the cost of a new router. That wouldn’t be acceptable to a client so I’d have taken a big loss or, knowing that this compatibility issue wasn’t going to be straightforward, I’d have recommended a new router early on in the drama.

Life is fraught.

Tax cuts? Yeah, right

You’re gonna pay

It’s my birthday today. I’m contemplating how much the gifts in the offing are going to cost me. Michael Cullen, with no obvious signs of embarrassment, is finally talking tax cuts from those extra billions of your money which Treasury have “misled” him over for years. Nothing to do with poll ratings and looming elections of course.

The National Party will now be sucked into the race and we’ll all be the losers in the end. Just in case you’ve missed all the expert comment here are a few points to ponder:

  • Any amount a tax relief worth having will be inflationary. The inflation pressure is already there thanks to oil prices, open slather borrowing for consumer items and punishing interest rates.
  • $15 a week more in the average earner’s pocket is a risible amount for all but those on the very lowest income rung.
  • If consumption driven spending occurs following a tax cut the Reserve Bank is obliged to drive up interest rates yet again. The rates are already obscene and the exodus across the ditch would turn from a flood into a raging torrent.
  • Interest rate rises will lead to increases in your mortgage or your rent and wipe out any tax cuts – and then some.
  • Who profits from our disgustingly high interest rates?
    • Overseas investors.
  • Who loses from said usury?
    • Mortgagees, tenants, consumers, business owners, investors in local business, employers and employees.
    • In other words, everybody.
    • That’s you and me.
  • Interest rates go up, so does the Kiwi dollar. Exporters take it on the chin again. More cheap plasma TVs, more borrowing, even more inflation. You get the picture.
  • Eventually the Kiwi will come down. Then what happens to oil prices?

There are alternatives

  • Give a substantial tax cut.
  • Tie that tax cut to compulsory KiwiSaver investment. Never mind that most KiwiSaver accounts are making less than money in the bank. That will change. Markets go up, markets go down, in the long term KiwiSaver will be a boon.
    • If we’d done this when Big Norm wanted to (even Winston First – one of his better ideas) we’d now have hundreds of billions available for local investment
  • Don’t keep on killing the golden goose with interest rate rises. Instead of controlling borrowing by making it more expensive, control it by making it more difficult.
  • Stop the disgusting bribery in the hire purchase industry. No payments for 3 years. No interest. Who are they kidding? If you fall for that bribery you’re paying up front. The TV that you buy under those deals is being sold at a huge profit. Do you believe that Harvey Norman are in the business of doing favours for the downtrodden consumer?
    • Go back to the days when you had to have a 20% deposit for HP. Sure, it’ll contribute to a downturn in retail, but the medicine has to be taken sooner or later.
  • Stop non-residents buying our land. We’re a low wage economy. You can’t tell me that people from higher income economies like the USA, Australia, the UK, et al are snapping up high country stations, coastal farms and cheap rentals in Whanganui for New Zealand’s benefit. And if you don’t believe that those purchases are inflationary I’d love to hear your argument.
  • Instead of talking up a storm about it, we need more action to grow the cake. The only way to increase each individual’s share of the cake without creating inflation is to increase productivity. Instead of wasting $1.5 billion on negligible tax cuts, invest that kind of money into R & D and into reducing compliance costs for business.
  • Slash interest rates. Use alternative measures to curb spending.