Friday, October 30, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

It's certainly been quiet around here, lately.

My Fridays are now a little different. Last term, we'd end our school day around 3:30pm. I'd do a bit of housework, but more often than not, I'd collapse at the kitchen table to do hardly anything much until dinner time, which would be takeaways. So, always time to put in an appropriately timed FNFFA, if I could beat ZenTiger to it.

However, this term my oldest son has had his swimming times increased. Fridays are no longer lazy, but instead much like most other school days where we end about 3:30pm, I run around getting the washing into the drier, tidy something up, sit down for a cup of tea and then it's time to take the kids to the pool.

Afterwards, it's FNFFA time, but I'm not able to get to my computer, because it's off to get dinner straight after swimming and pick up hubbie from the train station.

What you've all got now, is the after-dinner Friday Night Free For All. I haven't eaten finished eating my dinner as I didn't feel like pizza - I really wanted salmon, salad and camembert. Didn't get around to eating the camembert because I had some of the family's chips from Dominoes and a cheesy garlic bread while I cooked my salmon, so it's waiting in the fridge for tomorrow. If I feel like it then.

After I hit post, I'm getting that glass of red. I need it, as I've just remembered I've still got washing on the line.

Lucia Sterilisation an answer to Immorality

Michael Laws has put forward the suggestion that if NZ gave $10,000 to "certain people" in order for that person to consent to voluntary sterilisation, then there would "be less dead children and less social problems."

This is a typical liberal response to what comes down to a problem NZ has with immorality, which this insane sanctification of short term relationships by calling the individuals "partners". Not only "certain people" live like this, it's just that "certain people" cause more problems for society than other people.

Marriage as an institution was created to protect women and children. As marriage unravels, as it is doing in NZ, then there will be increasing problems with single women raising children and having short-term relationships with undesirable men, and having children to those undesirable men.

It's far easier to call for sterilisation of "certain people" than to ask everyone in society to lift their game.

Related Link: Sterilise underclass to stop child abuse - Michael Laws ~ Dominion Post

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lucia The Forces of Darkness are gathering

The following article, written by Richard Dawkins and published in the Washington Post is probably the most aggressive so far of all the attacks upon the Roman Catholic Church over the door being opened for Anglicans.
What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders. The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate. The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite. It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV. Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.

When you are doing the right thing, expect vitriol covered in lies and mis-charaterisations. Damian Thompson thinks that Richard Dawkins's latest attack on the Catholic Church is vicious and crazy. The man needs help. Except, there's probably a great number of Richard Dawkins clones who believe the same things he does. Though why atheists such as he would care if some Anglicans join the Catholic Church makes me think that on both spiritual and physical realms, the Pope's announcement has upset a whole lot of people and rebellious angelic beings.

Related Link: Give us your misogynists and bigots ~ Washington Post

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lucia Marx has not been rehabilitated!

Last week, after all the excitement of the Pope's Anglican announcements, a news item of interest seems to have slipped past into the secular world without much a reaction from the Catholic blogs who have bigger things on their minds. However, as an avowed enemy of Communism, I have not allowed myself to forget this particular news item, as it implies a rehabilitation of Marx by the Roman Catholic Church when no such thing has happened. So, it looks like refuting a major error is up to me.

On the 23rd October, the Dominion Post published a cut-down version of the The Times article Vatican thumbs up for Karl Marx after Galileo, Darwin and Oscar Wilde. The Dominion Post titled this cut-down version, "Church revises hatred of Marx".

The problem is that both The Times and The Dominion Post misunderstand the significance of an article published in the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, written by Georg Sans, a professor at the pontifical Gregorian University. The Times' version of the article states:

Professor Sans’s article was first published in La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit paper, which is vetted in advance by the Vatican Secretariat of State. The decision to republish it in the Vatican newspaper gives it added papal endorsement.
First of all, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has published a number of controversial articles over the last several years that are at odds with Catholic doctrine and by extension, the Pope. So to claim that the newspaper speaks for the Church, which The Dominion Post seems to have understood the case to be is not exactly correct.

For The Times to claim that because the article in question was previously vetted by the Secretariat of State, therefore the article has "papal endorsement", is also a bit of a stretch. The current Secretariat of State is Tarcisio Bertone, who Sandro Magister of Chisea believes is directly reponsible for a number of errors in communications and governance that have negatively impacted upon Pope Benedict. Have a look at these three articles that spell out the problems and their impact upon the Holy Father:

Tarcisio Bertone, the Cardinal Who Was Supposed to Help the Pope Since becoming secretary of state, he has exposed Benedict XVI to two public embarrassments. The first was in Poland, with the Wielgus case. The second is in Italy, with the maneuvers for the change at the top of the episcopal conference

Double Disaster at the Vatican: Of Governance, and of Communication This is the upshot of the lifting of the excommunication for four Lefebvrist bishops. The isolation of Pope Benedict, the ineptitude of the curia, and the misfires of the secretariat of state

Retractions. The Holy Office Teaches Archbishop Fisichella a Lesson The congregation for the doctrine of the faith has released a "clarification" that in fact repudiates the article published in "L'Osservatore Romano" by the president of the pontifical academy for life, on the abortion performed on a Brazilian mother-child. Here's the document
Further, if Pope Benedict had changed his mind about the evils that Marx had unleashed upon the world, we wouldn't be hearing about it through an article by a professor, we'd be hearing about it from the Pope himself. Especially since, as both The Times and The Dominion Post have said, the Catholic Church has been very hostile to his work and it's effects for a very long time now.

This overturns a century of Catholic hostility to his creed. Two years ago Benedict XVI singled out Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age. “The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful destruction of the human spirit,” he told an audience in Brazil.
The second sentence of the above paragraph from The Times article negates the first sentence, and should have set off the warning bells with whomever was given the task to cut the article down to size for a New Zealand audience.

Maybe a retraction is in order, though, I won't hold my breath.

Related Link: Vatican thumbs up for Karl Marx after Galileo, Darwin and Oscar Wilde ~ The Times Online

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lucia The Anglican Experiment is Over

A senior Anglican Archbishop in England has said he is ready to convert to Catholicism, now that the Pope has opened the door for Anglicans to convert enmasse.
Bishop Hind said he would be "happy" to be reordained as a Catholic priest and said that divisions in Anglicanism could make it impossible to stay in the church.

He is the most senior Anglican to admit that he is prepared to accept the offer from the Pope, who shocked the Church of England last week when he paved the way for clergy to convert to Catholicism in large numbers.

In a further blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of preventing the Anglican Communion from disintegrating, other bishops have cast doubt over its survival.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, even claimed that "the Anglican experiment is over". He said it has been shown to be powerless to cope with the crises over gays and women bishops. [Because they caved in to the world.]

For more, with commentary in red, see Fr Z's blog at the link below.

Related Link: The Anglican Experiment is Over! ~ WDTPRS

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

I'm much better this week.

Hope everyone else is good.

Lucia New Zealand to turn into a Surveillance State

National in government is looking worse and worse.

As Berend said on Kiwiblog, that photo of John Key as Mussolini posted by Chris Carter (and since taken down) isn't looking far wrong right now.

What do I say about a Government that is considering giving various non-Police Government Departments the power to snoop on citizens without a warrant, and to stop and search them?

Just unbelievable really.

Related Link: Surveillance bill goes too far, committee told ~ Stuff

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fletch Pope Makes Offer To Accept Anglicans Into Catholic Church

It seems that the Pope has made an offer of full communion in the Catholic Church to Anglicans, many of whom do not like the ordination of women or homosexuals. According to one report, a group of 400,000 Anglicans looks likely to shift right now -
400,000 Anglicans to Accept Pope Benedict's Offer

After Benedict XVI made one of the most startling moves since the reformation, 400,000 members of the Anglican church who are in schism over the ordination of homosexuals seek to accept the pope's offer of full communion with the roman church.

Archbishop John Hepworth, the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, said he would ask the members of his group to immediately accept the pope's offer. Anglican's will retain some of their identity under the pope's offer.

In 1992, when the Church of England first accepted the ordination of women, 440 clergymen left the church, many fear the offer of a new home will encourage many of the 77 million members to leave the Church of England for the new Synod
It is also reported that this will include Anglican priests becoming Catholic priests.
You can read the Vatican release HERE. This is a really HUGE step. Another report HERE from Bloomberg news site.

Lucia Five year olds too young to start school

A while back I posted on the shock, horror many here in NZ felt over many five year olds not be able to hold a pencil when they started school. For in NZ, you see, they start school right on their fifth birthday, and holding a pencil is surely something that pre-schools ought to be teaching. In these enlightened days of turning children into little adults, much is expected of them by the time they are five.

Now, Cambridge University has released a study in Britain that shows not only is there no benefit to five years olds starting formal schooling, but that starting at five could actually be detrimental to long term learning.
LONDON, October 21, 2009 ( - A study of primary education by Cambridge University recommends that formal schooling of children should begin at the age of six, a year later than the present norm in the UK.

The 608-page Cambridge Primary Review, which was based on 28 surveys and 1,052 written submissions by 14 authors, 66 research consultants and an advisory committee, said there was no evidence suggesting formal teaching environments benefited young children, and that introducing children at the age of five into the structure and discipline of a classroom could even be harmful.
So where did the idea of starting school at age 5 come from?
England's custom of starting school at five, shared in Europe only by Wales, Scotland and the Netherlands, dates from the requirements of Victorian factory owners, the report states, and warns of the "Stalinist overtones of a 'state theory of learning'" enforced by the "machinery of surveillance and accountability."
Machinery of surveillance and accountability is what the National Government is trying to introduce in NZ with state standards in primary school. If little Johnny can't hold a pencil at age five, it'll be catalogued in some database somewhere, to be kept in perpetuity.

Naturally, the British Government is not impressed.
The government dismissed the review as "disappointing" and out of date.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said the recommendations would actually disadvantage British school children.

"It's disappointing that a review which purports to be so comprehensive is simply not up to speed on many major changes in primaries," he said.

"The world has moved on since this review was started. We want to make sure children are playing and learning from an early age and to give parents the choice for their child to start in the September following their fourth birthday."
Blah, de, blah, de, blah, de, blah.

Funny, I seem to remember a certain Helen Clark talking about "moving on" whenever things came up that were politically uncomfortable. Must be something else from the Stalinist playbook.

Related Link: Cambridge Study Says 5-year-olds Too Young To Start School ~ LifeSiteNews

Lucia Gay panic causes suicide

The Dominion Post has a small article in today's paper on page A6 titled "Fear of rape 'led to prison death'. They could have just as easily used my blog post title, but I suppose drawing attention to the homosexual nature of the rape feared is a big no, no in New Zealand.
A prisoner who was raped by another inmate killed himself after learning that his attacker was being brought back to the same jail, prison sources say.

Maybe there's something to that "gay panic" myth after all?

Andrei Redefining Sin

Mankind is a fallen creature as a quick glance at the headlines of any newspaper will quickly confirm.

And sober reflection on my life reveals my fallen nature and I strongly doubt that you gentle reader are any different.

Now none of us like to have our imperfections pointed out and it seems to the unenlightened that is what the Church does, look for peoples flaws and threaten damnation to those who fail to fix them. Under that scenario of course we would all be damned and we are not. As every Christian knows salvation is possible but achieving it is a life long process, with many many stumbles along the way.

What we all would like of course is to be told our sins, whatever they may be, are not sins and we can do whatever pleases us whenever we like. Now the fashionable sins of our age are sexual ones and the ethos of our age is if if feels good it must be good so do it and ergo it is not sin.

Some elements of the Church have gone along with this. And those of us who haven't are more than likely to be labeled bigots for standing fast to the age old teachings of the Church.

But the neither the Good Lord, nor his Church are fun killers, the reason why something is considered sinful is because it is harmful to primarily ourselves and usually to others besides.

Another thing that many fail to grasp about Christianity is that the Church teaches that we all have free will, you can accept the teachings of the Church or not as you choose. There will be consequences arising from your choices, sooner or later as it is with all things but it is you choose to do them or not as you please. The Church isn't going to stop you. It is going to advise you on what is good and profitable for your soul and body not stop you. You can take heed or not at your own peril.

And here is where liberals have lost their way entirely - they want the Church to stop teaching that sexual sin, in particular, is wrong. But despite liberals wanting open slather on sexuality the negatives remain - STDs, "unplanned pregnancies", divorce, along with the hurt and pain that causes to the innocent. And the Church resiling from its position on these matters will not eliminate the negatives not even reduce them one whit.

Those elements of the Church that have gone along with the liberal ethos are in disarray, their soothing words are empty - it may be possible to please the liberal elite but the consequences of sexual sin remain regardless. And those consequences are human unhappiness one way or another, regardless of how anybody might like to wish it to be.

And human unhappiness is not pleasing to the Our Lord of that I can assure you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lucia Nazism vs Communism in New Zealand

School boys who photographed themselves bowing to a Nazi symbol have been made to apologise to the Auckland museum and spend some time teaching visitors how evil the Nazis were.

But, has anything happened to Bob Brockie, who confessed last month to his father potentially helping Soviet soldiers with their dysentry problem in 1940? The year my Dad, when he was a child, was transported to Siberia in a cattle rail car in the dead of winter by Soviet soldiers with his entire family - their only "crime" being enemies of Communism. That same year where up to 21,857 Polish officers were taken in groups out to the forests to be shot and buried in mass graves by Soviet soldiers, so that the problem of Polish leadership in a invaded country would be dealt with (ie the Katyn Massacre). A little something the Soviets learned from the Nazis.

No apology in the paper, no having to educate readers on the evils of Communism. Nothing, not even a mention.

You'd think it was a crime in NZ for schoolboys to take photos of themselves bowing to a swastika, YET, admitting to family actively helping the Soviets during the time that they were NOT an ally of New Zealand (in effect, an enemy of New Zealand) is not something to be even blinked at.

I put it down to how Socialist New Zealand is, how closely allied in spirit we are with the Communism of old.

These schoolboys have in effect committed a thought-crime. Thought-crimes are the worst of offences in Communist countries, because they go against the state story of itself. Anyone who commits a thought crime must be re-educated and seen to publicly repent. While as helping Communists, no matter what they have done, is like helping family - to be expected.

I think New Zealand really needs to take a long, hard look at it's love affair with Communism over the last century. For, the worst crime that a Communist could commit would be to go to the other side, to worship that traitor - the Nazi. Who was a friend and ally and then betrayed us. Even worse, pretended to be a friend and ally and then betrayed us. And now can only be reviled and spat on and any comrade who goes to the other side must be made to see the error of his ways.

For this over the top reaction to school boys taking photos of themselves bowing to the swastiska points to something far more than is rational going on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fletch New Study Shows Downside of Being Gay Student

As reported in the NZ Herald -

Gay and bisexual students show elevated rates of alcohol and drug use, sexually transmitted infections and mental health issues, an Auckland University report says.

The study, to be released tomorrow, used data from Youth 07 - a survey of 8002 secondary school students which quizzed respondents on sexual attraction, health and wellbeing.

It showed that over the past 12 months more than a third of gay and bisexual students had seriously contemplated suicide, while about half had harmed themselves, the New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF) - who are backing tomorrow's release - said.

NZAF said the report also revealed several positive developments when compared to a similar survey done nine years ago. These included students forming rewarding friendships with peers and decreased rates of smoking.

"The improvements are wonderful. However it's very clear that the rates of bullying and isolation that (gay and bisexual) youth reported have real and serious consequences for these young people," NZAF spokesman Nathan Brown said.

Dr Kathleen Quinlivan, senior lecturer at Canterbury University's College of Education, said the report sent "a clear message" that schools and communities needed to start involving gay youth to learn from them about addressing prejudice and discrimination.

Somehow I am finding the 'positives' (forming friendships and stopping smoking) kind of outweighed by the negative (alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, suicide, disease) . I should point out that I'm not trying to 'get at' gay people by posting this but it shows that the "lifestyle" itself has mental and physical consequences and should not be promoted to our young people as being healthy; that is the "clear message" I get.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lucia Gay Thought Police

Looks like NZ's Gay Thought Police have leapt onto the condemnation bandwagon of a writer who dared to question the circumstances around Boyszone's Stephen Gately's death.
"It's like gazing through a horrid little window into an awesome universe of pure blockheaded spite. Spiralling galaxies of ignorance roll majestically against a backdrop of what looks like dark prejudice, dotted hither and thither with winking stars of snide innuendo."
Not a direct quote from Gay NZ, but by including it in their article, a point of view that could easily be ascribed to them. Of course, if they don't feel that way, I'll happily retract.

But honestly, two men in a civil union taking a 3rd male home, to then have one of the men dead on the couch - um, surely questions should be asked. Questions were asked about Michael Jackson's death. I doubt there are many calling for the head of journos who asked anything unpalatable of his death. But in the case of a gay icon - woah - do not dare to say anything or the thought police will come after you! Groups will be set up calling for your resignation, advertisers will pull their ads, and the screaming banshees will rake you with their words.

Related Link: Gately's death inspires "hateful, homophobic" article ~ GayNZ

Lucia We on the brink of doom!

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Remember Chicken Little?
Gordon Brown will warn today that the world is on the brink of a "catastrophic" future of killer heatwaves, floods and droughts unless governments speed up negotiations on climate change before vital talks in Copenhagen in December.
More to the point, if Copenhagen fails, then the chances that governments will be able to put in the crippling taxes needed to satisfy the socialist desire for a fully funded world government will also fail, because the population is getting increasingly sceptical that paying taxes will do anything to alleviate a "catastrophic future".

Related Link: Copenhagen climate talks are last chance, says Gordon Brown ~ Guardian, UK

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ZenTiger That's got to help race relations

"Why are we fighting whakapapa against whakapapa? There's so much enemy that is not brown." -- Pita Sharples, to Gang Members.

Where does one go with a statement like that? It's possibly worse when one understands the context. Perhaps I'll change the subject then.

In the brown camp, you have beer, kahlua and a dark malt whiskey. I guess white enemies might be P, cocaine and crack. The greens (Grass and tobacco) are reasonably dangerous, but in a mild and long term way. Only thing is, can Pita Sharples sort these colored types out? I guess it depends on who he meant the "enemy" were.

Hat tip: Dim Post

And related but not related: Your worst nightmare about to be released

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

Hello all.

I have blogger's writer's block.

I think it's because the world as I know it, no longer makes any sort of sense to me. So blogging is just trying to make sense out of the senseless to the few that can actually understand what I am talking about. To the rest, anything I write is just gibberish.

After a number of years, that starts to really wear away at you.

Not to mention that in real life, I have seen first hand the insanity that inhabits the Catholic Church in Wellington. It's not just here and there - it's everywhere. Trying to write a post about that has completely silenced my blog voice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ZenTiger The Cult of Insincerity

There is in the article a moral exhibitionism, which is generosity of spirit at other people’s expense. This, I think, is one of the sicknesses of our age, the desire to appear more-compassionate-than-thou. I suspect that, in his heart of hearts, the author does not believe a word of what he says: a common thing among intellectuals. -- Theodore Dalrymple

An interesting statement all on its own. However, it's the closing paragraph of a broader article, one which attacks what is becoming an increasingly popular concept amongst the liberal avant-garde - the abolition of prisons.

He writes about France, but we have our own such people that are looking so hard at one aspect, I think they manage to ignore all others. I'll quote Theodore once more in reply to this idea:

There is no recognition whatsoever in the article that the purpose of the criminal law is to protect the population from criminals, not to make criminals better people. Of course, it would be nice if they became better people, as indeed they often do with the passage of time; but criminal justice is not group therapy. It is, moreover, preposterous, and deeply condescending, to suggest that criminals do not know what they are doing, and that what they need is therefore some kind of help to know it. As for calling crimes a ‘mistake,’ equivalent, shall we say, to putting the wrong postage on a letter or forgetting to put salt in the soup, it empties the world of all moral meaning whatever.

That sums up the underlying madness around ending prisons. I've said it before, prisons are not the problem per se, they hold evidence of the symptom. You will not end crime by abolishing prisons.

I'd also make the point that rehabilitation programs are desirable, but in NZ we see an alarming disconnect with a prisoner making parole, and then the support services and parole conditions not being monitored adequately, reducing parole down to a game of chance, with citizens forced into the gamble that the criminal has changed their ways.

I'm wondering though what it is that convinces these more-compassionate-than-thou style liberals that criminals are people that simply "made a mistake", like a meeting and a bit of group therapy would sort it all out and the criminal would say "righto" and promise not to do it again, "it" being rape, or murder, or some violent act.

Is it really insincerity that drives these liberals, or something else? I could ask if it were "something far worse", but given the outcome, what other reason could be worse?

Related Link: The Cult of Insincerity

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fletch Your Life Is Boring - Watch TV

Has anyone else seen the latest TVNZ 'On Demand' advertisement on TV?
It's basically asking that at the end of your life when your whole life flashes before your eyes, would you rather see your own boring life or would you rather see yourself surrounded by famous people and actors (because you've been watching TV) as this will somehow be more satisfying to you when 'the end' finally comes.

As ad campaigns go, I find it rather ineffective; perhaps it will get more people to stop watching though and actually go and enjoy life, which is a good thing.

The idea of having better memories at the end of your life because you'll see the people in the TV shows you've watched is rather cynical though; it reminded me of the video wall in Ray Bradbury's excellent novel Fahrenheit 451 in which people interact with a soap opera that constantly runs and nothing ever happens; it keeps the people sedate. In a case of life imitating art, TVNZ has just started a web-only series called Reservoir Hill, which is billed as our first 'interactive TV series'. You can watch the programme and then txt the main character, Beth, and let her know what she should be doing or to warn her etc.

As though people haven't got enough problems in real life, they have to be concerned about, and interact with, fictional characters. I suppose it's just one step further from movies and TV.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ZenTiger Is Global Warming Theory Cooling?

There does seem to be scatterings of fresh data making it into the papers showing that the vaunted Global Warming models might not be correct. At the least, we might get a better discussion than simple "consensus" statements that preclude such unscientific thoughts as debating the data, the models, the methodology and so forth.

All beyond me, so I continue to focus on the response to AGW in terms of what taxes and financial controls are being suggested to manage the weather. Here's a report that discusses both of these topics:

This week, the doomsters were embarrassed to learn, once again, that the planet was not in grave peril. Antarctica, their greatest candidate for catastrophe, was not melting at an ever-faster rate, according to a report in Geophysical Research Letters, but at the slowest rate in 30 years....The red faces aren’t all caused by Nature’s refusal to cooperate in Earth’s demise. The clean carbon folks have recently discovered that they’ve been in bed with organized crime. Scotland Yard and Europol, among numerous other law enforcement agencies across Europe, are hot on the trail of scam artists believed to have made off with £1-billion by illicitly trading carbon credits....

Related Link at Contra Celsum - Global Blushing

Meanwhile, here is a recent NASA You-Tube Clip showing receding ice and declining permafrost. It seems to say the opposite of the report above. It will be interesting to review this in a year and see what the latest data sets show. Things seem to be moving fast.

ZenTiger ACT show some life

NZ Doomed To Status Quo [Found on Scoop]
It's good to see the ACT Party speaking out against John Key. Key apparently has dismissed the idea of flat tax out of hand. That action simply reinforces my point - there is no serious consideration of tax reform, this will end up as just another exercise to broaden the tax base with the introduction of new taxes and superficial fiddling of the rates.

That is my main concern about the tax review - any serious discussion of options like Flat Tax and other tax systems (such as the USA Fair Tax proposal) would usually be welcome, but only when we have open minds at the table.

John Key has ruled out any such options out of hand, thus prompting Sir Roger Douglas to inject some passion into a debate National do not want to bother with. About time!

ACT New Zealand Finance spokesman Sir Roger Douglas today urged Prime Minister John Key to consider a flat tax, following his decision to blindly dismiss the work Treasury was doing.

“If John Key really wants to have an economic recovery – boosting productivity and exports - then he is being foolhardy to reject out of hand the idea of a flat tax, when instead he should consider all the options on the table” Sir Roger said.

“Incentives matter. A flat and low rate of tax would provide incentives for people to work, for people to seek promotions, and for people to upskill. Unfortunately, current levels of tax –combined with the abatement of benefits – means that the incentives to work harder and get ahead are dulled. Many of our best and brightest are leaving New Zealand for low taxes overseas.

“If Mr Key is concerned about equity, then a flat tax can be designed that is equitable as well. Simply have a high tax free threshold with a minimum guaranteed income for individuals provided through tax credits. The idea that a flat tax is inequitable is nonsense.

“The message this sends is very clear: Mr Key is perfectly happy to lead a Government that spends around 40 percent of GDP, wasting billions of taxpayers’ dollars and churns many of those tax dollars back to the people who paid them. He is more concerned about how he will look in two years’ time rather than actually doing his job, and restoring this nation to economic prosperity.

“The modus operandi of the National Party is becoming fairly clear. They constantly talk about the need to change, about the need to boost productivity, but every option except the status quo seems to be off the table. Unfortunately for National, good ideas never die” Sir Roger said.

ZenTiger Flat tax option blindingly obvious

Treasury was considering a flat tax rate to help close the income gap between New Zealand and Australia. Finance Minister Bill English had a unique opportunity to reform the tax system, Treasury said.

This opening section of the article has gained several favourable comments for the on-line NBR story.

Some think flat tax is a blindingly obvious move, and I can see the merits of this. However, blinding might be the key word. Here's the sting in the tail that need to be right at the top of the article:

GST, land tax and capital gains tax would be increased to fund the changes.

This isn't a reformation of the tax system, it's solely about broadening the tax base.

There's no serious look at the tax system, as I have seen very few ideas around the tax system I'd expect to see mentioned let alone discussed in depth.

There is no discussion on any restraints on government spending (living within a budget, rather than expanding it), nor mechanisms to prevent tax rates being increased again once the "new" taxes are established (some of us still take note of history).

The result will be that the government will simply continue to increase in size and scope year on year, and taxes will be applied across a broader set of targets, so that when one rate goes down, two others go up.

And guess what the net result will be?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ZenTiger Time for a second opinion

Are ACC accident prone? Two years ago, they managed to blow 2.4 billion dollars, last years figures show another 4.8 billion net losses. That's over 7 billion bucks in 2 years.

There are only 4 million or so people in NZ, and a big chunk of them, plus businesses, car registration fees and probably several other sources all have mandatory contributions to ACC to fund its costs.

7 billion lost in 2 years seems a bit dodgy to me. Actually, the more I think about it, the less likely this was an accident. Will that stop them from claiming more from the tax payer? Unfortunately not. Whilst the hole continues to be dug deeper, ACC levies are going to be shooting up across the board. That means more taxes.

I think it's time for a second opinion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ZenTiger Greens Buy Back Integrity

The Green MPs’ superannuation fund will sell its two properties to give the public maximum clarity about the use of Parliamentary housing allowances, Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei announced today.

What an over-reaction! Selling the homes is apparently to achieve transparency, and reclaim their integrity, even though they are "doing nothing wrong".

Selling their property does not reclaim integrity.

This practice of purchasing property and renting to themselves using tax payer money to pay the rent is something all the MP’s are doing, and I include their offices in this. Labour has a 20 million dollar property portfolio for goodness sake (and cried poor when paying back their election over-spending)

Not that any of that is likely to be illegal (except the bit where the Greens claimed twice on the same place. Not a mistake any other normal people renting a property together would be likely to make). In this regard, you don't just pay back money, you have to pay penalties on use of money and interest. That's the laws they have made that apply to tax payers and businesses. Why are they exempt?

Anyway, the issue of renting properties comes down to the degree of personal gain from a salary arrangement, and applies to all MPs. That is the issue to fix, and the Greens selling their property will not fix it.

In general terms, I don’t see anything wrong with what the Greens and all MP’s are doing other than this element of unfair personal gain, compared to how other employees are typically treated. If that was costed into the equation, via a small tax component on that gain, it would be balanced out to be just as unfair as the tax system politicians have designed for all of us.

The Greens have called for a review, and I support them in that. The review needs to be wide ranging and the issue under review is actually quite straight forward - a look at all the examples of where personal gain is made from salary and reimbursements over and above what a normal citizen would get. MP's have structured their finances to maximize their long term dividends without being taxed at the source or this gain being treated as taxable income. The banks tried that and were found to be arranging their affairs largely for the reason to avoid tax. They will have to collectively pay back billions.

How much do our MP's owe?

And will the result simply wake them up to how overly complex and unfair our tax system is when it actually applies to them? That might actually be the best outcome. Because if the only outcome is for them to pay a bit more tax, their salaries will simply be raised to compensate. They can do things like that, and continually prove it.

Related Link: My Friday Night Free For All rant

ZenTiger NASA Bombs the Moon

I happened to watch NASA bomb the moon last night through a live feed. Although, with Obama winning the Nobel Peace prize, attacking the moon with rockets is a great way to celebrate I guess.

Apparently, NASA are trying to discover water on the moon. Perhaps the thinking is that the moon is totally uninhabitable, has no atmosphere and nothing to breathe it could still be a place to live if it has water.

That's presuming that the earth is left totally uninhabitable, having no atmosphere and nothing to breathe, so we'd suddenly find the moon attractive. That might not sound much different, but currently the moon is a tax haven and no councils are charging rates. The views are spectacular too.

ZenTiger The Obama Speeches sure deliver

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Obama

Obama, after 37 weeks as President has picked up the Nobel Peace Prize.

Obviously, the Nobel Committee has taken into account the 12 months of campaign speeches prior to this to provide the basis for this award.

The criteria for winning a Peace Prize seems to be merely pretty speeches, or making an award winning movie.

I therefore have no chance to win this prize. I'm speechless and out of film.

Oh, congratulations Obama.

PS: Gee, I really thought Ahmadinjad would have scooped this prize for his drive to bring peace to the middle east and clear up slight errors of historical fact. Or perhaps Kim Jong-il had a shot given his efforts to revolutionize long range communications and experiment with more efficient forms of energy? Maybe next year.

Adam at the Inquiring Mind has also seen this: Is it April?

Friday, October 9, 2009

ZenTiger Friday Night Free for All

The last Friday of the school holidays. I took this week off from work, so I could work on other things. However, the weather and my motivation were not conducive for completing anything of any scale. Some new blinds hung up, the lawns mowed, and the purchase of an electric sander called "The Mouse". Now that is a name for a sander! At this point I'm supposed to mention it's a Black and Decker. Blogging is all about product placement. Note how I've pumped the product but not commented on how good it is? Well, geez, it's not even out of the box yet. And I'm holding back until Black & Decker contact me and offer to donate money to my favourite charity for a favourable review...not that I can be bought like that. I wonder what their power saw is like?

On the radio, the Greens are selling the house involved in the "double dipping" scandal. Apparently, recycling the homes is the Green way for hiding evidence. This move comes to remove any perception that they are guilty of anything. That is of course why they feel obliged to sell the house. "We made a mistake and now we will over-react". Or will they? I wonder who will buy the house, and for how much money?

Actually, the Greens have called it double-dipping. It was triple dipping. Paying double the rent, funded by Parliamentary Service into a Green's Trust Account managing their Superannuation scheme. Fantastic. They say this is entirely different than Bill English, because he only formed his trust account this year, whereas they've had a trust account for 12 years. In 12 years, Bill's trust will be as ethical I suppose?

Yet another occasion the Greens show Red. This time, it's a faint blush of embarrassment.

The Greens are taking a gamble that the other parties are much worse, and calling for a review of the rules. I suspect they will be right. If the review is wide and deep enough, many snouts will be exposed at the trough. It's one of their better ideas. I'd vote for it. [More here on the Green Property Sell-Off]

Good evening one and all.

Andrei Buying green makes you more dishonest?

Here's a study from the University of Toronto which "shows" that people who buy green products are more likely to be dishonest in other areas of their lives.

Well there you have it folks, hockey stick charlatanism has finally been scientifically explained.

ZenTiger Maori Warrior

Given my defence of boxing, one might mistakenly think I'd embrace a culture of violence. I do not. That was about competition and self-mastery.

So I'm not particularly impressed with the plans to build an 8m giant Maori Bronze Statue that will apparently "stir Kiwi pride".

It's an implicit celebration of the violent aspect of culture, so it doesn't stir any pride. It's a display of Maori culture rather than bringing together something all New Zealanders can relate to, and already Maori are complaining they were not properly consulted. It's also a 2 million dollar waste of Rate Payer funds (unless some is bolstered by private money?)

Aside from that, I probably would have yawned and moved on except for the unfortunate opening paragraph:
It will not rival the Statue of Liberty or come close to the Eiffel Tower, but it will be bigger than Paeroa's L&P bottle and Te Kuiti's shearing statue.
This is sad and funny on several levels.

The first is the laughable comparison to two major icons that simply dwarf this statue in scope, meaning, cost and ability to inspire.

The Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom. Rather than a warrior, it's a women standing tall holding a flaming beacon, welcoming incoming immigrants sailing into New York Harbour. It commemorates the Declaration of Independence. It was a gift from France to America, and there is symbolism even in that.

The Eiffel Tower is a marvel of construction, created for the world fair, an event that encouraged trade, education and industry. It was also meant as a memorial to the French Revolution, again, an intention to celebrate liberty, not the violence employed to achieve it. It was also a world's first - the world's tallest structure at the time.

So those comparisons were the sad part, and the funny was then the comparison to reality. "It will be bigger than Paeroa's L&P bottle and Te Kuiti's shearing statue. Whilst I don't mind those small town icons, is this also the competition Waikato council aspires to rival with its Maori Warrior?

Surely, we can do better then this?

Andrei The pills cultural consequences

Get this theory - according to this article in the mail the contraceptive pill has turned women off of masculine men.

I don't know if this particular theory is correct or not, probably not in my view, but it is clear that over the past forty years our society has become overly feminized.

But this story in the Guardian points to a real cultural consequence arising from the use of the pill by western women and the feminization of the west.

And if that doesn't worry you, it should.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ZenTiger Key vs Clark - The Race

There's some rather weak comparisons being made between reports of John Key's motorcade speeding through Samoa, and the infamous incident of Helen Clark speeding up to Christchurch to make a flight to get to the rugby in Wellington.

Very weak comparisons, so I thought I'd set the record straight, by comparing 8 key factors in the events, scoring a point against Clark and/or Key against each question to arrive at an "Outrage Index" score. The higher the final score, the more we can be justifiably outraged at either incident. But first, to get you into the mood for the Race, listen to this:

1. Helen Clark's car was traveling at a top speed of 170kph, whereas John Key achieved a top speed of only 120kph. That's a significantly slower speed, and ranked as "almost legal" whereas Helen's speed is clearly moving towards "World's Fastest Indian" level and immediate loss of license. Score Helen 1 outrage point, John 0

2. One car was speeding in a third world country, on a mere two lane highway, with livestock and children potentially on the side of the road, and the other was in Samoa. OK, we'll score that as one outrage point each.

3. Helen was speeding to get to the rugby. John Key was escaping a towering tsunami of water several metres high and his life was in danger. Hang-on, they were actually rushing him over to have a shower before heading out to the devastation zone. We'll score that as one outrage point each as well.

4. Helen was speeding in New Zealand, and is arguably beholden to NZ law, and yet she ignored it. John Key was in a motorcade under the control of the Samoan police, in Samoa. John Key was probably thinking "if this was my country I'd tell them to keep to the limit, by oath." 1 outrage point to Helen, and John get's away with the "When in Rome defense" (Note: You cannot use this defense as a North Islander visiting the South Island, because they are civilised there. However, it can work for any Kiwi visiting Auckland)

5. Helen, after almost breaking the sound barrier and traveling at a speed that would give any self-respecting boy racer fluffy dice, claimed not to notice anything untoward. She was apparently engrossed in the gripping novel 'Pinocchio'. On the other hand, John Key noticed going over 80 kph and so did his staff who asked the Police to slow down. 1 outrage point to Helen and 0 to John.

6. John Key wanted to attend an international disaster, whereas Helen wanted to get back in time to see the All Blacks play the Wallabies.... Now, before you go asserting that the All Blacks playing does constitute an international disaster, we need to put this in the context of 2004 when they were on form, so it's one outrage point for Helen even thinking the game could have gone like that. (Yes, we won 16-7)

7. Helen Clark admitted that she actually had no particular interest in rugby and had only gone to the July 17 Test in her capacity as the country's Prime Minister. John Key was also in Samoa as Prime Minister. That too could score nil all, but using the excuse "I don't actually give a toss about who keeps the Bledisloe Cup" is tantamount to treason in a Prime Minister, so it's one point to Helen again.

8. The fact that Chris Carter turned up in Samoa to survey the damage in his capacity as member of the opposition could also count against Helen in this contest, but I shall believe Phill Goff's hasty press release advising that Chris Carter had only turned up there due to be mistaken for a battered old leather suitcase destined for Tokyo, and had been claimed by the Labour Party as lost luggage. Regarding the rugby - I do not recall any National opposition members using their awesome power and authority during after match celebrations to beg for autographs, so zero for John there.

So the final score on the outrage meter is 7 out of 8 for Helen and only 2 out of 8 for John Key.

I trust the issue is now settled.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ZenTiger What is in the water?

What is in the water? The recent boxing match between Tua and Cameron have brought out comments from all degrees of the political spectrum railing against contact sports, and in particular boxing. Some of these comments spring forth from the blogs of commenters I like and respect, so I respectfully offer a counter-argument.

Some want to redefine sport to exclude the martial arts, others link boxing to the sideline raves of the spectators, who can get more carried away than the participants.

I worry the underlying theme of denigrating the physical brutality that accompanies such sports is an idea absorbed by the osmotic pressure of living in liberal left societies. Some ideas are like cancers, creeping in and corrupting a cell at a time until the damage is noticed, and then perhaps it is all too late.

The liberal left promise to end all forms of "violence", from a smack in discipline, to the brutality of rugby and the barbarism of boxing. All sorts of justifications arise to assert this idea. More laws, more restraints, less freedom to choose. And a morbid fear of the physical.

Except by removing such sports, they are denying a fundamental piece of what it is to be human. The paradox of intense competition produces spectacular gains both personally and in society. Self discipline, an awareness of limitations, the joy of surpassing them, the inspiration to others and the confrontation of what happens when we push things too far, and succumb to more primal instincts.

The liberal-left ideology is dangerous. It always points out the downsides, but never acknowledges the upsides. It is repetitive, it is relentless. The rules it plays to are hardly sporting, and the game plan is to keep the other team off the field, rather than allow them to engage. Hey - it avoids bloodshed if the other team can't even get on the field, and because the left think they are always "right", a competition of ideas is unnecessary.

So all of you living on the right side, or are the classic kind of liberal, or sensible kind of conservatives, consider carefully what benefits we lose if we take these ideas to their logical conclusion.

What is the goal? One could argue banning boxing would be a good start. You can train, you can push yourself, you can build yourself up, but just never ever use your strengths unless they are approved by the Committee of What We Think Will Make Society Better.

It will not work. You can ban sports, you can redefine them to exclude the ones you don't like, but it will not change the internal forces in a person that seeks out such things. Laws and regulations will not change society, self mastery will. And if you look at the top athletes, the top fighters, the top sportspeople, you will see that they have taken on this struggle for self-mastery. They are instinctively admired for it.

Embrace the challenge, plunge yourself into sports, into competition, into life and use the challenges to make yourself a better person. Ignore the idiots and avoid the thugs that also participate in the game and on the sidelines, as training for real life. Indeed, give such people an idea of what they need to do to lift their own game by remaining in the thick of things.

In the meantime, filter your tap water.

Related Link: A great opinion piece by Joe Bennett in today's DomPost: Bennett on Boxing.

An excerpt:

The boxer closed in on his victim, shoulders rounded, throwing blow after blow, his head down, his bloodlust up.

The crowd became unselfconscious in their excitement. The opponent fell, and got up again to cheers. Not cheers of support but cheers that there would be more fighting. In came the blows again, vicious, sinking into head and body. Goliath shielded himself inadequately with arms and gloves. The blows kept coming. He fell again. The bell saved him.

Nobody went away. Men, women, policemen, they were all held to the spot. The fight touched something fundamental in them. You could ban boxing, but you wouldn't get rid of that something. Boxing was an outlet for it, by proxy.

A minute later it was all over. Goliath had fallen. The crowd rapidly dispersed. The cops returned to the beat like islands of propriety, itinerant reminders that the daytime rules still operated. Everywhere around me I heard snatches of talk about the fight. It had been visceral and honest. For all the fake publicity, it had been fighting for real. You could see the pain. You did not want to step into the ring.

I drank a beer then wandered back to my hotel room, flicked on the television. I watched an American movie about the attempted abduction of a president. It was implausible and thick with violence. Perhaps 50 people died in the half hour I watched before falling asleep. People were shot without remorse.

This was violence sanitised and glorified. This was fake and glamorous. This was much worse than boxing. This was porn. This was the truly bad stuff. The stuff they give Oscars for.

ZenTiger Taito Phillip Field

There are two sides to every story, and the papers have run the side of the prosecution pretty hard. I'm no expert on the full details of his crimes, but I'm not entirely ignorant either. So without going into detail, I just thought I'd drop an opinion.

Six years jail seems far too harsh for me, given the crime. Because ultimately, he was trying to help people in his own way. When I think of the rorts and legalized scandals other MP's get away with - declaring something a mistake and quickly paying back the money when pushed - such as the Green double-dipping on rental properties; Labour's Election spending in the 2005 elections; Bill English arranging his affairs to get maximum perks; Winston Peters and NZ First lack of transparency over their donations; the list goes on and on, and Field's crimes seem no worse. He just didn't back-pedal.

It is the mark of the man that he has accepted the verdict of the court in good grace, and not continued to argue his innocence, as the guilty often do. Six years of a good man's life seems harsh when I see criminals in for crimes of cruelty and violence, built on a history of other crimes, many never punished, serving far less time. Something seems off here.

This is one case I would not contest early Parole, or home detention. Good luck Taito Phillip Field.

Related Link: Taito Phillip Field in for a long long time

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Andrei Oh dear - not a good look

According to this NZPA article more invoices for Chris Carter's overseas jaunts have turned up - apparently a trip with Peter Kaiser and Staff member to Chile and Peru was missed when the initial revelations about his globe trotting ways appeared.

From the figures given in the article this particular junket would have appeared to cost a cool $48,241.

As you will undoubtedly be aware Mr Carter has just been in Samoa in his capacity as shadow ethnic affairs minister showing the flag in the wake of the tsunami disaster that struck there last week.

So Mr Carter within the space of a year has visited Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Spain, the UK, Chile, Peru, Australia and Samoa.

Hot damn, shadow ethnic affairs seems like a darn good job to have how does one apply?

Andrei What makes a masterpiece?

More than thirty years ago now Michael Cimino set out to create a cinematic masterpiece, a movie called Heaven's gate.

What happened next is legendary, he spent a fortune, getting the finest details down on film, the New York Times critics hated the final result and the studio panicked re-cutting the movie which then went on to bomb at at the box office.

United Artists, a studio founded by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas
Fairbanks and D W Griffiths was financially ruined.

But in Europe where the original cut was shown the movie was received far more favorably and today most modern film critics also view it far more kindly, perhaps "flawed masterpiece" is the consensus view.

The scene in the clip was one particularly picked out for opprobrium by the original critics, a scene which I hate to think what it cost to film and one that shows the attention to detail that made this movie notorious at the time it was made.

But perhaps it is that attention to detail which is now rehabilitating this movie as the masterpiece the director intended.

It is a pretty good movie and visually very beautiful, perhaps its a little slow paced for the average movie goer and NYT movie critic.

Whatever it is certainly not the turkey some would have you believe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lucia Education is free by law!

I had to laugh this morning, when I read the Sunday Star Times' Editorial, titled Charging for a free education has to stop. Apparently a number of schools has been illegally charging parents for their children's education.
Two dozen schools, 20 state and four integrated, have been caught since the beginining of 2008 charging for services that should legally be free. The Education Act is clear on the matter: state schooling is free until a child is 19. That's what free education means. State or state-integrated schools cannot make donations compulsory or charge parents for anything used to deliver the curriculum [...]

The law says state schooling is to be free yet some schools feel they must charge for schooling, presumably because the funding from the State is inadequete. Money doesn't just grow on trees - I'm sure that in the curriculum somewhere. Or if it isn't it should be.

But what I had a chuckle at this morning was the righteous position taken by the nameless editor over "free education". While the law says state schooling is to be free, the state takes money needed to run state education from the taxpayers. For teachers need to be paid, buildings need to be maintained and white board markers aren't donated, they are bought.

Apparently, New Zealand spends $10 billion* a year on state education.

Ten billion dollars does not make state education "free". Ten billion dollars makes state education in New Zealand incredibly expensive. For state eduction to be "free", everything would have to be donated. Teachers would donate their time, land would be given, buildings would be built and maintained out of the goodness of people's hearts (like habitat for humanity), and stationery suppliers would hand over stock as needed without requiring payment. In a sense, much like the old convent schools that the Catholic Church used to run with nuns donating their time for no pay.

Maybe the editor of the Sunday Star Times is thinking back to those days of old - if the Church could do it, why can't the State? Especially since the State has the power of the taxman behind it! But therein lies the problem.

You can't legislate schooling to be free and then make it compulsory and expect that all costs will be borne by taxpayers. Something's got to give. It's like legislating that the sky will be sunny on Wednesdays and getting all upset when the weather doesn't respect the law!

Hence, my amusement this morning.

* Ten billion dollars is the figure given by Trevor Mallard on NewsTalk ZB this year, after David Farrar had apparently erroneously, according to Trevor Mallard, posted a figure of Six billion dollars a year for eduction on KiwiBlog. As Trevor Mallard had been Minister for Education last year in the previous Labour Government, I'll take his word for it.

ZenTiger Blog Stats for September 2009

The stats for September.

Page Loads : 11094 (13615, 9171, 9800)
Average per day - 370 (439, 296, 327)

Unique Visitors : 6413 (6819, 5182, 5982)
Average per day - 214 (220, 167, 199)

Posts : 68 (79, 64, 47)
Comments : 331 (621, 391, 429)
Most comments for one post: 32 (60, 43, 36)

Technorati Authority : 21 (22, 20, 35)
Alexa Ranking : 383672 (364270, 344000, 302376)
NZ Alexa Ranking : 721 (622, 610, 593)

Here's my calculation for the Tumeke NZ Blogosphere Statistics based on the following formula:

+ 214 (Daily Unique visitor traffic from Statcounter)
+ 21 (Technorati Authority)
+ 16 (Posts: 68/30*7)
+ 27 (Comments: (32+26+26+22) /4)*

= 278 (304, 230, 278)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ZenTiger Capital Punishment in NZ

It was a blogger who said "In New Zealand, the only thing certain in life is death by taxes."

Actually, it was said back in 2009, on this blog and in this post.

Back then, (being now if you read this blog frequently) I might have had no idea how prophetic that statement would be. Or maybe I did? Time will tell.

Even though NZ already has a tax of Capital Gains, it doesn't officially have a Capital Gains Tax. Apparently, the entire civilised world has one of these. It's purpose, we are told is to stop inflated property prices and consequent property crashes. Except of course, countries with a CGT still experienced the same problems in their housing market a CGT will protect us from here in NZ.

So let's cut the crap excuses, and admit it's just another excuse for a tax.

The point of this post though is to discuss what kind of form a new tax might take. This is not as cut and dried as one might think.

There is the standard expected CGT form of "tax the profit on a sale of a house", and with that is the usual rider clause "but not the family home". A small diversion at this point - I wonder which home that would be for Bill English, or are all his homes "family homes"? This is not merely a flippant question. As Minister of Finance he's going to be in the drivers seat for adopting these new taxes, and he might want to empathize a little stronger than previously with people affected by new tax laws.

Anyway, that is not the only form a new tax might take. I've seen reports from the government appointed Tax Working Group twice now mentioning the "benefits" of a land tax. This would be a yearly tax based on the value of the land.

Think about it: A yearly tax based on the value of the land.

This is in addition to rates.

Pricewaterhouse-Coopers tax expert, John Shewan (a member of the Tax Working Group) noted this gets around the problem of the government only getting revenue when the home was sold. Says John: "The land tax problems were not as deep seated [as CGT] and could be applied across the board, including owner-occupied homes"

Presumably we (the citizens and land owners of this tax-grabbing country) will get to make submissions if this idea makes it to the recommendation stage.

I suggest making a submission would be a lot less stressful than a full blown revolution, for all concerned, and hopefully as effective, if not as productive.

My time living in Australia saw rising rates plus a land tax force an increasing number of pensioners to sell their homes. Through no fault of their own, they happened to live their entire lives in areas that became fashionably popular and therefore fashionably expensive. In Sydney, some modest homes increased in value so much that many were valued at more than a million dollars at the height of the property boom.

Asset rich and cash poor, to pay their taxes and rates, eventually the only option was to sell up and move out to an area that was unfashionably affordable.

A Land Tax will hit this sector of the community hardest. It could be the issue that gives NZ First it's opportunity for a comeback. It would cement National's positioning as a party of the left. They might try to offset it with promises of lowering the top tax rate, but so what? We took a higher GST to lower the top income tax rate to 30%. Good deal some said. So what's the top income tax rate today? 39%.

A Land Tax will also affect others though. For example, young families on tight budgets, trying to meet mortgage payments and cope on one income during the period children come along, with no real option of actually living off one income will see this as just another way of punishing those with the grand ambition of escaping a life time of rent.

An annual land tax, on top of rates does more to undermine the financial independence and social benefits of home ownership than most other forms of taxation.

And the irony of this process of hunting for new taxes is the acknowledgment in the paper today that IRD have failed to collect an estimated 200 million dollars from property investors that owe taxes on capital gains on the sale of property.

For a country that supposedly doesn't have a capital gains tax, it's strange that 200 million dollars remains outstanding from the taxes of capital gains. That's 200 million outstanding. I'm not sure what the total revenue from this is.

A new land tax will be New Zealand's own brand of Capital Punishment. And if I could quote a blogger I know:

"In New Zealand, the only thing certain in life is death by taxes."

Lucia Tony Blair most likely to become EU President

Tony Blair is apparently a shoe-in for the presidency of the EU, the only catch being that the Irish have to vote YES on the Lisbon Treaty.

If once you don't succeed, try, try again! The EU has taken that ancient saying to heart, for having the Irish already vote NO on the Lisbon Treaty already, hasn't stopped the EU from repeating the whole process until success.

I don't know what the likelihood for the YES vote gaining traction in Ireland, for a big part of the original NO vote was attributed to a fear on imposed abortion on demand if the country took on the Lisbon Treaty.

But all of that is background to what I really wanted to say in this post.

Tony Blair, when he left office as Prime Minister of Britain, took the opportunity to convert to Catholicism. Something he had apparently been practising for 25 years with his Catholic wife and children.

Rather than jumping up and down with glee that we got another world leader, many observant, politically astute Catholics were dismayed. I chose to say very little on this blog about it, as I was hoping for the best as one should when a person converts.

But very quickly, Tony Blair showed that he had not really converted, he had just taken on the identity of his family. Publicly, he and his wife have spent much of the intervening time criticising the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope, almost as if by political pressure alone they hoped to form Catholicism into their own image. Unfortunately, they are not alone in believing they can do this - you only have to look at NZ to find many Catholics who act the same way.

In Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister of Britain, he could easily be named the "principal architect of the culture of death", as pro-life advocates describe him. As such, and as he has never publicly repudiated any of the death policies he enacted while Prime Minister, his conversion to Catholicism was an absolute scandal.
The virulently pro-abortion and anti-family Tony Blair has been described by British pro-life advocates as the "principal architect of the culture of death" during his ten-year rule as Labour Prime Minister. Blair oversaw the expansion of abortion and the positioning of Britain as the most permissive country in the western world on experimentation using living human embryos. He is regarded by the country's homosexualist activists as their primary ally in the cause to create legal same-sex "civil unions" with most of the rights and recognition of natural marriage and the right to adopt children.

And now Tony Blair, openly identifying as a Catholic, will be in a position as President of the EU to impose pro-death policies on the member countries. People will look at him, wonder about his religion and if it actually means anything, and it will reflect very badly on us.

Related Link: Tony Blair Shoe-In for President of Europe if Irish Vote Yes on Lisbon ~ LifeSiteNews

Friday, October 2, 2009

ZenTiger Friday Night Free for All

I've finally made it back to the lair and see that the blog is silent. Well, might get a few stray comments yet, the midnight oil has yet to be burned.

It's been a strange week, the school holidays change the rhythm of life.

The tsunami in Samoa was tragic news, and seems like another has struck Indonesia.

Lives lost and others irrevocably changed in the blink of an eye. We all have a finite life, and we generally do not know how many days we have before us, so every day behind us is hopefully part of the journey that sees us become the best people we can possibly be. Some are on this journey to save their souls, others to spend them. Others still may not realise life is not a spectator sport. Even those who think they are on the sidelines are in the game.

I'm straying into one of those philosophical musings that make it appropriate to discuss three items of wisdom from around the traps:

* It was Henry Ford who said “Whether you think you can or can’t…you are right.”

* If you are going through Hell, then don't stop

* If you are going to criticise some-one, first walk a mile in their shoes. That way, if they are angry with your criticism, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes.

They all seem valuable pieces of advice.

Lucia Tsunami warning - not really [UPDATED]

On Wednesday morning, when my radio woke me up, there were a couple of news items about an earthquake in Samoa and a tsunami in the local area.

As the morning progressed, I heard about the possibility of a "one metre wave hitting NZ" and that the areas most likely to be affected would be the east coast, but Wellington was being warned as well.

What was not mentioned at all was when this "one metre wave" was supposed to hit. The impression I got was some time during the morning.

We live right next to the beach, only a few metres above sea level, so naturally I was very interested in the "wave" that may or may not be coming. As my youngest son had a 9:30 swimming class, with the swimming pool being right next to the beach, I needed to know whether or not be worried.

In the end, I decided that because we were on the west coast, a number of kilometres north of Wellington, that a "one metre wave" posed little danger, and we continued on to the swimming class as normal.

Now I hear that the "one metre wave" was actually a potential one metre surge, that could have travelled at great force and velocity inland destroying all that lay in it's path... Can I just say I am really annoyed at not being told just when this thing was supposed to hit and just what it could have been!

Naturally, there is criticism being levelled at Civil Defence for the scarcity of information given out.

[UPDATE] 11:52 I got my directions confused, ie where the wave was coming from, and where we are. Both errors have now been fixed.

Related Link: Civil Defence under review after tsunami threat

Thursday, October 1, 2009

ZenTiger The Outrageous Opinion of Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum has joined the liberal elite by coming to the defence of Roman Polanski. Her article: The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski.

A prize winning journalist, and usually capable of a thoughtful and reasoned article, she seems to wade in with only a few facts, and outlines the reasons to ignore statutory rape of a 13 year old.

That in itself clearly defines the debate going on around the world. Her position on this matter is called into question when it transpires her husband (Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski) is actively campaigning on Roman Polanski's behalf to get him back into Poland safe from the clutches of the Californian courts.

Roman Polanski was found guilty of rape. He pleaded guilty, which is a bit of a giveaway. All that awaits is the sentencing. The original "deal" struck said it was going to be a mere 90 days in jail. He fled when he thought that the deal might be off. Thankfully, that means the sentencing need not involve the victim, who has moved on over all these years, and would quite like every-one to just go away. Said the victim more than 10 years ago in an interview:

I don't carry any feelings of anger towards Polanski ...I even have some sympathy for him, what with his mother dying in a concentration camp and then his wife Sharon Tate being murdered by Charles Manson's people and spending the last 20 years as a fugitive. Life was hard for him, just like it was for me.

"He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life."

That's making me feel bad just for commenting on this story. But the cat is out of the bag now, and the best thing we can do is get Polanski back in the States, complete the sentencing and then hope like heck that any other rapists note this story, and the determination to see serious crime punished, even after 20 years.

Otherwise we run the risk of the only crime worth pursuing more than 20 years is a Maori land claim or renaming a city.

That aside, Anne's impassioned defence is less credible given her husband was advocating for Polanski. She's since maintained she didn't realise this was the case, which must surely be more embarrassing for a top quality journalist, given she linked to the very story mentioning her own husband in her Washington Post Blog.

As Whoopi Goldberg said "it's not rape-rape."

I guess that makes all the difference.

ZenTiger Vatican City and Age of Consent

Twice this week I've seen the comment "The age of consent in the Vatican City is 12, it's the lowest in the world".

It's always dropped as a factoid that supposedly confirms the sexual depravity of the Catholic Church. It's a bit of a nonsense really, on several counts, so I thought I'd document these reasons in a post to save myself from repeating this in future comments.

How big is the Vatican City?
The Vatican City is an area within the city of Rome, Italy. It can be described as a City-State. It is around 110 acres in area (approx 0.44 square kilometres) and has a population of around 800, making it the smallest country in the world in terms of land size and population.

No schools. No families. No children.
The Vatican is not a traditional "country" with families and schools and children growing up. It's a small area of land not even half a square kilometer serving as the central government of the Catholic Church, with tourists and visitors typically leaving the grounds at the end of the day. Thus, the applicability of this law is more conceptual than actual. The total number of inhabitants living in the Vatican City is around 800. Most of them are clergy, with 100 Swiss Guards, Clerical (admin who are actually clerics!) staff and a handful of others, usually short term residents there on work.

Inheriting Italian Laws
The Vatican City-State was created under the terms of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 between Italy and The Holy See. The pact consists of three treaties. The main intent of the pact was to formally recognise the sovereignty of the Holy See and come to settlement over past losses the Catholic Church suffered (Conciliation Treaty [CT], Article 26).

In it's creation, the Vatican City automatically inherited Italy's laws and penal code. It also allowed that the Vatican would hand over criminals to be tried in Italy, under Italian Law (CT Article 22). The Vatican City does not have civil courts.

One of these laws it inherited was the age of sexual consent, which was 12. This is the "factoid" bandied about on the internet. It is incomplete information, and is likely incorrect.

It is incomplete because the law had two parts. The second part mentions the age of consent is 15 where one of the parties was some-one in a relationship of dependence, such as a Doctor-Patient or Teacher-Student. We could therefore expect the Vatican to prosecute on these issues as a minimum.

However, as I said, this fact is likely incorrect. From what I can determine, the source of this information comes from the Wikipedia page listing the age of consent for all countries around the world [ref]. It argues that once these laws came into existence in 1929, they were fixed from then on. This is not so. The pact allowed for the laws of Italy, as they changed, to continually apply to the Vatican. Currently, this age is 14/16. Specifically:

The age of consent in Italy is 14 years, with a close-in-age exception that allows those aged 13 to engage in sexual activity with partners who are less than 3 years older. The age of consent rises to 16 if one of the participants has some kind of influence on the other (e.g. teacher, tutor, biological or adoptive parent)

Fixed Laws or Changing Laws?
A single paragraph in the Wikipedia, without proper citation suggests the laws were fixed in time. That conflicts with several other sources. Without going into them all, let's cut to the chase: In December 31, 2008 the Holy See announced that it would no longer automatically inherit new or changing laws from the Italian Penal Code. A BBC article summarises this:
The Vatican City State, the world's smallest sovereign state, has decided to divorce itself [BBC humour? - Zen] from Italian law. Vatican legal experts say there are too many laws in Italian civil and criminal codes, and that they frequently conflict with Church principles.

With effect from New Year's Day, the Pope has decided that the Vatican will no longer automatically adopt laws passed by the Italian parliament.

All Italian laws will be examined one by one before they are adopted.

Under the Lateran treaties signed exactly 80 years ago between Italy and the Pope, and the Italian Parliamentary system, Italian laws were applied automatically.
It's pretty clear from this that Italy and the Holy See understood the current civil laws of Italy applied to the Vatican right up until 2009. It appears that the unreferenced paragraph in the Wikipedia was in error.

Is Italian Civil Law the only law applicable?
However, just because the Vatican City inherits Italian law, it doesn't necessarily mean they represent a "maximum offence", particularly where there is a direct conflict against Church teachings. The treaty provides provision for Canon Law to apply.

The first treaty document discusses the absolute sovereignty and independence of the Vatican, explicitly backed by international law. The third document - The Conciliation Treaty spells out the nature of the protection of the Catholic Faith and the importance of Canon Law.

For example, Article 34 of the Concordat starts off:

Art. 34. The Italian State, wishing to restore to the institution of matrimony, which is the foundation of the family, that dignity which is conformable with the Catholic traditions of its people, recognizes the civil effects of the Sacrament of matrimony regulated by Canon Law.

and further on:

The provisions and the relative sentences when they have become definitive shall be carried to the supreme tribunal of the Segnatura, which shall control them and see that the norm of the Canon Law relative to the competence of the judge, the citations, the legitimate representation and the contumacy of the parties, has been observed.

So, when considering the age of consent, the question becomes "what exactly is the party consenting to?" It is well known that Catholic teaching is against sex before marriage, and in civil law, the age of consent for marriage is different than the deemed age of consent for sex.

Does Canon Law respect civil law? That is, to what extent do the secular laws of the country come into play when considering a Catholic Marriage? Canon Law 1058 gives us an idea: All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage.

In other words, the Catholic Church would typically respect the secular laws of the country in which it operates. For Italians, the age of marriage without parental consent is 18.

However, the link between Canon Law and the Italian Legal Code has been ignored by many detractors over the years. In 1984 Italy and the Holy See reaffirmed the Lateran Treaty and took the time to restate acceptance of Italian Constitutional rights without prejudice to the canon legal system (Note 2c)

Article 8 of this document stressed the importance of marriage, and acknowledged that marriage would not take place: When the spouses do not meet the requirements of age determined by civil law for celebration;

Now this might seem to be a little off topic. What if we find ourselves in the situation where, against all Catholic teaching, two 12 year olds have engaged in sex, in one of the gardens of the Vatican City. Having been caught, they are technically breaking Vatican law. For argument lets even allow they are not breaking the law if the 1929 laws applied.

Either way, one might consider that the State has no interest in prosecuting two minors in this regard - it is a matter for the parents. On the other hand, some critics use this "age of consent" to suggest the Catholic Church is immoral for not prosecuting through the court system. They would undoubtedly prefer the Church to hand these youths to the Italian authorities, and under Article 22, have them prosecuted under Italian Law.

This issue is probably worth a separate post, as it actually raises some very fundamental points on how far we wish the state to go in regulating on essentially private matters. In New Zealand, it is illegal for 13 year olds to have sex. Yet, it's not illegal to supply contraception. Surely, this is prima facie evidence that illegal sex is occurring, and the law must be enforced?

In practice, the underage sex laws in NZ are rarely enforced. I recall a case of an adult having sex and getting the child pregnant at age 13. It turned out he had a sexual relationship with this girl since she was 11. The police chose not to prosecute. It seems the laws are there only for show. Whilst atheists take pot shots at the Vatican City, where the law is basically irrelevant, continual disregard for the law they demand in New Zealand is standard operating procedure.

Moving along, what if one of the parties is older? In that situation the youngest must now be at least 14 (13 if the other is under 16). They could still be handed over to the Italian police, and let them determine if a law is broken. If there is a relationship of dependence and the minor is 15, or the person is under 14, they have still broken the Law, and prosecution becomes a secular matter.

The meme that the age of consent in the Vatican is 12 is incorrect, given current Italian Laws apply for the reasons outlined above. Furthermore, the law would seem largely academic given the unique situation that the Vatican City is a small City State whose function is to house the government of the Catholic Church. It is not a country that has children growing up and going to school and spending summer holidays walking the 110 acres of grounds.

Also, Catholic teaching reinforces the sacrament of marriage, and discourages sex outside of marriage. Canon Law respects the civil laws of the country it operates in. Detractors of the Catholic Church seem indifferent about this. The civil laws they try to hold the Vatican City accountable to are largely ignored in New Zealand by the authorities, with nary the same outrage expressed by these people. How hypocritical. I'd be interested in a debate on just how far the State should go in criminalizing consensual sex between like-aged participants. I wonder if these people have sons and daughters they will haul off to the police when they find contraceptives in the sock draw? I doubt it.

Related Link: Age of Consent in Italy and the Vatican
Related Link: About the Vatican City
Related Link: The Lateran Pacts