T is for Taxes (and delayed blog posts)

Been working on my taxes so have been a bit slack in posting…

However I thought that I would share this graph which shows where all your tax money was planned to go for 20132014 (if you are New Zealander that is):

Source http://www.interest.co.nz/news/64515/budget-2013-summary-all-spending-plans

Pretty much what you’d expect, Social Welfare: 27%, Health: 17.7%, Education: 15.3% which is the price you “pay” for free education, healthcare and a good social welfare program. Then the shocker 13.9% ( $11,502.8 million) paying back debt! Thanks economic crisis :(  More details here

P is for Productivity in New Zealand

It costs 40c to produce every dollar in New Zealand which, is pretty astounding figure. A report released this week by the New Zealand Productivity Commission tries to determine why New Zealand’s GDP per capita is generating over 20% below the OECD average when (based on it’s broad policy settings) it should be generating 20% above the OECD average.

It identifies a number of causes:

The country has good resources – investment in physical capital and average years of schooling are broadly consistent with other countries. Employment of low-skilled workers also plays only a minor role in New Zealand’s poor (measured) productivity performance.

Instead, over half of New Zealand’s productivity gap relative to the OECD average can be explained by weaknesses in our international connections. New Zealand firms face reduced access to large markets and limited participation in global value chains, where the transfer of advanced technologies now often occurs.

Most of the rest of the gap reflects underinvestment in “knowledge-based capital”. In particular, R&D undertaken by the business sector is among the lowest in the OECD, reducing the capacity for “frontier innovation” and the ability of firms to absorb new ideas developed elsewhere (“technological catch-up”). The quality of management in New Zealand is also low, which lowers the productivity gains from new technology.

The paper also outlines ideas for addressing these problems. It’s a good read. The 4 page summary PDF can be found here and the full paper (An International Perspective on the New Zealand Productivity Paradox) can be found here [PDF].

The Food Bill

Yesterday I read Lance Wiggs’ post on making everyone in NZ part of the 1% which I believe is a fantastic idea. Of course to do this we need a government that works for the people and I’m not sure that it fully is…

Point in case, this week NZ signed the ACTA (when instead it could have being announcing a bill such as Brazil’s Civil Rights Based Internet laws) and of course there is the new Food Bill.

Introduced last month The Food Bill in its current form it effectively makes it illegal to grow food and share it with others! This blog post discusses the bill, covering all the tin-foil hat scenarios, including  the AOS kicking in the gates of maraes to confiscate their vegetables and seeds :)

Unfortunately as currently written the bill would actually allow these scenarios to occur. I thought I’d ask an MP about it and tweeted Green MP Gareth Hughes:

@GarethMP WTF is this Food Bill thing about ? nzfoodsecurity.org/2011/07/19/foo…

His response was:

@rabidgremlin hey it’s not as bad as some people are making out. Here’s Sue Kedgley’s view blog.greens.org.nz/2011/09/13/foo…

I’m not sure I agree with Gareth’s assessment but Sue’s response makes good sense (is it just me or are the Greens the only party that seem to have any common sense?) and would solve the problems in the bill, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

This whole issue of course highlights the fact that governments are fallible and that poorly drafted laws can have a huge impact on our lives. We can’t just sit back and expect everything to fall into place, instead we need to become actively involved in our country, policies and government if we want to make New Zealand the country were everyone in it a part of the 1%.

More links:


Web 2.0 Political Party

One of the things that bugs me most about NZ politics is that there isn’t a political party that I actually like.

Every election I basically sift through all the FUD to try and identify the parties that seems less likely to screw things up. I then cast my votes and hope that for the next 3 years the winners don’t go off on some tangent and introduce a law or bill that I don’t want and I don’t have any input into.

So today I was rather intrigued to see a Google ad at the top of my Gmail account that read: “Wanted: Six Members of Parliament” with a link to www.icount.co.nz.

Turns out icount is a new political party that was established last month, that has very interesting twist: Basically members of the party to get to vote (via the icount website) on issues before Parliament. The icount MPs then present and vote in Parliament in accordance with these polls.

This allows everyone to have input into the government all the time!

I very much like this idea. For years I have been saying that this is they way a government should be run. I was thinking publicly accessible electronic voting booths, that anyone can vote at on any issues that they wanted to provide input on, but using the web is a good start.

Of course for my electronic voting booths to work you would have to issue everyone with a nice unique and secure form of identification and this would freak out the tin-foil hat wearers. Not to mention that we have all read about the electronic voting fiascos in the USA.

Which raises questions about security for icount, I did some digging around on their site but they did not seem to have any obvious information on questions such as how they avoid vote rigging, what security policies and procedures they have, how do they know that their members are real etc.

Still icount is an intriguing idea and is likely to attract people like me who would like to have more input into what goes on in our government, not to mention the “social networking” generation for who using the web is as natural as breathing.