Home' The Wellingtonian : July 21st 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 21, 2011
Lessons from the Americans?
Safe to say, United States
President Barack Obama
will have viewed his White
House meeting with Prime Minis-
ter John Key as an oasis of tran-
To the Americans we are
friendly faces -- one of the few
nations fighting the Taliban who
are not bailing from their
commitments in Afghanistan as
quickly as humanly possible.
Typical, really. New Zealand
appears to pride itself in asking
little in return for being a depend-
able support for the American
Government, and for its major
In turn, they seem to feel
grateful for our willingness to
En route to Washington, Key
even found time to dine in Los
Angeles with the Hollywood film
executives he had obliged so
fulsomely during The Hobbit
fiasco last year.
Despite the splendid photo
opportunities on offer during the
United States trip -- an Oval
Office handshake with Obama is
definitely one for the family scrap-
book -- the reality is that the Key
Government has far more in com-
mon with Obama s opponents
than with the embattled occupant
of the White House.
Obama s latest battle with the
Republicans has been about how
to reduce the American deficit.
Like their New Zealand
counterparts, the Republicans are
stonily refusing to countenance
any balancing of the books that
might conceivably involve tax
No matter what spending cuts
Obama has offered in the hope of
reaching a compromise deal, the
Republicans have rejected tax
increases as part of the price of
saving their country from
defaulting on its debts.
Rather than asking the wealthy
to forgo a cent of the tax cuts
doled out by the Bush adminis-
tration, the Republicans have
seemed willing to inflict serious
hardship through reductions to
health, education and welfare
spending. Not to mention pursu-
ing state-sector job cuts, even in a
time of high unemployment.
Plainly, there are parallels
between this approach and the
prevailing economic orthodoxy in
As with the Republicans, tax
cuts have also been treated here
as a blessing -- not just to the rela-
tively few lucky recipients, but to
the productive economy as a
Yet, as in the United States,
there has been precious little
empirical evidence of the economic
gains that would justify such
In the meantime, income dis-
parity (with its related social
costs) has increased substantially
during the period that this
approach has been in the
Is it always politically suicidal
to raise taxes? Locally, the
received wisdom on this point will
shortly be put to the test.
In the early 1990s, the Clinton
administration raised taxes and --
despite cries of horror from some
quarters -- the United States econ-
omy entered a prolonged boom
In coming months, the Labour
Opposition is gambling that it can
mine political gold out of
introducing a moderate capital
gains tax on one hand while
forsaking GST on fruit and
vegetables on the other, and
abandoning entirely the planned
partial sales of state energy com-
That promises to be a hard sell.
Not an impossible one though,
given that the electorate already
seems uneasy about how energy
prices may be affected once pri-
vate shareholders begin to drive
While in Washington, Key will
have had a front row seat on how
such horse-trading is carried out
by the professionals in the United
The Wellingtonian welcomes
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is given to letters responding to
issues raised in The Wellingtonian.
Send your letters to P O Box 3740,
If people were given the old hot
Gospel that was preached by
Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon and
men of that calibre, it would make
them aware of where they are
headed and will finally spend
eternity if they don t get truly
converted before they die.
It appears that Mr Blair (July 7)
is confusing rape with consensual
prostitution. Prostitution is legal
in New Zealand, as he may
already be well aware.
Go ahead and ask How much?
to the next woman you see who
gets you excited, and let us know
how you get on. Do not, however,
rape her. Totally different things,
(Correspondence on this subject
is now closed)
Congratulations on your item and
editorial (July 7) regarding Jo
Coughlan s proposal to spend
money on a swimming pool
feasibility study. What planet do
she and her supporters come
Both items hit several nails on
the head. Well done. The voting
analysis was excellent.
I understand Sparc supports
the pool idea. Well, Sparc can put
up the money then.
After all, tossing $25 million
away on a pool would achieve as
much as its High Performance
These people, councillors and
Sparc, seem to have no concept of
how hard earned the money is.
More accountability is required.
Responding to Rimu Atkinson s
letter (June 16 ), indeed fewer
want to avoid the large sums of
money needed for proposed tunnel
widenings and flyovers.
A smaller number of cars per
household is an answer. If more
transport per household is
needed, light-calibre motorcycles
are an answer.
The number of cars per
household is very high in New
Zealand. The money spent on the
purchase and maintenance of New
Zealand s car pool is colossal and
most goes to car manufacturing
The money saved on cars could
be used for healthcare, education
and research. EDUARD SCHWARZ
I have to agree with Stephen Todd
(June 23) that there is no need for
a sign on the hillside but I would
like to see the introduction of
more native shrubs to
complement the town belt.
However with tongue in cheek,
perhaps Welcome to Orange
Cone County would best describe
our city. Only joking.
I write in response to Josie
Bullock s letter (June 23) about
the plight of a refugee in a cold
damp Housing New Zealand flat.
I suggest Josie apply for a job at
Housing New Zealand because
she exhibits the same blame the
Josie lambasts the woman for
having a child while living in such
cold, unhealthy conditions.
Housing New Zealand blames
the woman for not having the
right documentation in her
application for a transfer and the
regional manager blames cold
tenants for not providing their
As Wellingtonians know, there
is nothing more futile than
heating a home without
As soon as you turn off the
heating, the warmth is gone.
The blame and shame here is on
Housing New Zealand and our
Government for failing to provide
adequate housing to vulnerable
A pregnant woman with a sick
daughter is apparently not a
priority case, which indicates
there are many people in far
That makes me angry for these
tenants, not angry at them.
Unfortunately, cold, damp and
unhealthy houses , where health
issues are linked to living
conditions are common.
There are too many
substandard houses in New
Zealand. Outreach nurses visit
numerous houses that are damp,
mouldy and cold and cause
illnesses such as bronchitis,
asthma and eczema.
The suggestion of simply
heating the home more can result
in unaffordable $400 monthly
power bills when a house is
draughty and has no insulation.
Housing agencies and landlords
should take responsibility and
make necessary adjustments to
Sixty per cent insulation
subsidies are available to
landlords with tenants holding a
community services card. Small
changes made to people s living
environment help make it warmer
and drier: curtains, draught
stopping and changing ventilation
Sustainability Trust operates a
referral programme, Warm
Fuzzies Wellington, to assist
households such as Sahra Farah s
to make changes.
The issue that needs addressing
is property owners offering
occupants a healthy home to live
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