Water tap

Surviving the conversation

Unless we are good friends, my picking the restaurant when you are paying the bill can be a recipe for trouble. Central and local government are not always the best of friends. And when central government sets the water quality standards, local government foots the bill. In places with high water-treatment costs, residents might reasonably prefer the occasional boil water notice to hefty rates hikes. Central standards then amount to an unfunded mandate on local councils. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
23 November, 2018
Rocket

Destroying the town to save it

Question: What costs three moon programs, puts nobody in space, and makes no difference to emissions? Answer: Energiewende (or energy turnaround), Angela Merkel’s plan to cut Germany’s emissions. Energiewende aims to make Germany the first industrial economy to fully run on renewable energy. The cost so far: 29,000 wind turbines and 1.6 million solar panels for the bargain price of €500 billion. Yes, half a trillion euro. Read more

Matt Burgess
Insights Newsletter
23 November, 2018
Overseas investment

Cease this foreign investor farce

New Zealand’s screening regime for foreign investment in sensitive land conjures images of a madman waving a big stick in a public place. He is as likely to hit his own head as anyone else’s, but it is bad either way. It piles absurdity on absurdity. First on my list of self-inflicted harms is the economic madness of the Overseas Investment Act’s refusal (section 17(2)) to recognise that the primary benefit to New Zealand from selling land to a foreigner... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
23 November, 2018
Housing money2

Financial innovation beats Kiwibuild

The Government has copped much criticism lately for its Kiwibuild policy, including from our chair Roger Partridge writing in Insights two weeks ago. So it is only fair to praise Housing Minister Phil Twyford when he deserves it. This week’s announcement of a new government infrastructure partnership north of Auckland is indeed praiseworthy. Crown Infrastructure Partners, Fulton Hogan, and Auckland Council have teamed up to deliver $91 million worth of new residential infrastructure at Wainui. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
16 November, 2018
America Flag

The end game of identity politics

The American mid-term elections were brutal. Indeed, no liberal democracy may have ever witnessed an electoral campaign so characterised by lies, racism and hate. Just how did America become so divided? When it comes to the blame game, globalisation is a fashionable culprit. The deindustrialisation of middle America, as US jobs were exported to Asia, caused unemployment and poverty among America’s working classes. The resulting economic stagnation provided the perfect incubator for Trump’s jingoism and patriotic nationalism. Read more

Roger Partridge
Insights Newsletter
16 November, 2018
Tree

The One-Trillion Tree Empire

New Zealand was never home to a great empire for one simple reason. We don’t have enough trees. Historians have often credited Rome’s massive deforestation of the Mediterranean to its success as an empire. During Rome’s five centuries of power, it used wood and coal for everything from housing to fuel to its massive military. At one point, the Roman Empire had a population of 56.8 million people. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
16 November, 2018
Trump 1

Towards Trump 2020

Few outcomes of the US midterm elections could have been predicted with certainty. Except that President Trump would call the result a “tremendous success” no matter what. And he did just that. If losing control of the House of Representatives is such a tremendous success, one might wonder what keeping it would have been. Semantics aside, the President has a point. From his perspective, it could have been a lot worse. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
9 November, 2018
Boy reading

Education under the x-ray

When you break a bone, being told that an X-ray confirms the break is little relief. You already know there is a problem, but what you really want to know is how to fix it. Last week Unicef released a study that found New Zealand has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The report included measures on Early Childhood Education attendance and the size of the gap in reading scores. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
9 November, 2018
Horse

Better horses

Winston Peters’ tax credit for pretty horses fights the wrong battle when it comes to improving New Zealand’s bloodstock. New Zealand has no obvious problem with ugly horses. Maybe farmers keep the ugly horses hidden so townies out for a drive don’t see them, but it seems unlikely. I have yet to see an ugly horse here. They’re all beautiful in their own way. But we do seem to have, dare I say it, cowardly horses. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
9 November, 2018

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