Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Retirement and the Housing Market

My wife and I realized that the passage of time bought the prospect of retirement right into the cross hairs! About 15 years ago we got serious and set out some savings goals to give us a comfortable but modest lifestyle when retirement came.

A figure was identified as a goal to achieve that would give us an ongoing income on which to live. At that time interest rates were between eight and ten percent. No more, at 3% our expected income will be about a third of what we had planned for!

I learnt about the supply demand graph on day one of stage one economics! I know that the housing issue is based on too little supply and too much demand! Why is there too much demand because people like me now have to look at the housing market to get the type of return we planned for when we started saving for retirement. We can achieve seven to eight percent and a capital gain.

If we were serious about the housing problem we would address demand. We need to get the Cash rate back to seven percent so that there is an alternative to investing in property. Banks could offer decent rates on term deposits. Higher mortgage rates would also cut demand for houses. It solves two problems; one it gets the investor like me who really doesn’t want be there out of the market and two makes it difficult for those to leverage mortgages from their new found equity to play in the housing investment market.

I feel a bit conned I have been exhorted for years to save for my retirement and now the savings I have won’t earn enough interest to give me the life style I planned for.

The housing problem is a supply and demand problem but unless you address the drivers of demand then you may as well throw money at the wall for all the good it will do!

It can’t that hard surely?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The public good

I have been thinking long and hard about the meaning of Government. Regardless of our station in life if we earn, buy or both we pay tax. This is our contribution to the running of the country.

All tax is a payment made by the ordinary people and companies of New Zealand and goes into a pool to be managed by the public service that are in turn governed by the elected officials (the Government). The pool of tax money goes to providing the services required of a society but can’t be effectively provided by other means. It also goes to providing the necessary infrastructure required in a civilised society but can’t be provided by other means (dams, roads etc.).

When deciding how that money is spent consideration must be given to the public good and to the strategic requirements of the country. It gives a lot of latitude to all the parties involved but they must also be held accountable by the electorate, that is, not only the elected officials but also those employed, by those elected officials, to carry out the tasks assigned. This is the fundamental premise of democracy. The people hold the Government accountable for its actions. Therefore everyone is responsible for the actions of the Government.

It also means that the Government owns nothing they are the stewards of that which is owned by the people. We don’t sell Government Assets we sell the people’s assets. I wonder what the cost benefit analysis has been on sales to date?

I sometimes think that it is the public good component of government that receives the least consideration and I think it can be canted by philosophical belief. It is a simple process, is it good for the people and the country, if so then it is a public good. I wonder if we don’t get confused with what is a public cost. Is education a public cost or an investment in the future of the Country. Are the Police a cost or an investment in public order? Is health a cost or an investment in public well-being?
When we look at infrastructure we assess it on need but shouldn’t we look at what sort of potential can be released by that investment; can it be an enabler of economic activity?

These are heady conundrums for governments all over the world. I do believe that we need to understand and promote government that emphasises the Public Good and acts as good and able stewards of precious public funds. Governments must also hold accountable those that administer those funds on our behalf.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Silly Laws and Law makers!

The Hauraki District Council, it has been reported, has given up on the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act. It had become too costly to defend their position. It is another example of legislation that is not fit for purpose! It was badly conceived, badly drafted and is virtually inoperable.

Legislation on the fly doesn’t work. It became apparent that under the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act’s initial draft that Mini Bars in rooms would need to be closed between 4.00 am and 8.00 am. That would have worked! When this was pointed out to the Politicians they said we had to make it work; fortunately saner heads prevailed. Of course we had the debacle of the Rugby World Cup, special amendments had to be made to the Act so that we weren’t criminalising ordinary people who wanted to go and join with others in a Bar to watch the games live. To listen to the doomsayers who opposed the amendments, the social and moral fabric of our society was at risk; “Yeah right”! The question is why this had to happen at all, good legislation doesn’t need to be amended so soon after its enactment!

We now have the Australians sending home their unwanted New Zealanders (and keeping and claiming the one’s they like) and we have to have special legislation to cope with these people. I know there are some real dangerous idiots amongst them but if they have done their time do we punish them again because our “Mates” have sent them from their home to here. I am not up with the law here but isn’t that a bit wrong.

Even if they have further constraints to their sentence (probation etc.), isn’t there already an understanding between the courts and the police of the two countries on protocols where this has happened in the past. Tell me it isn’t so that there is no communication and agreement between these organisations already.

My old boss used to point me at Sir George Laking’s (ex Ombudsman) rules on good legislation. Legislation had to pass 4 rules to be considered good; 1 It needed to be understandable, 2 it need to accessible, 3 it needed to be fair and 4 it needed to be enforceable.

We seem to be getting legislation driven by popularity polls, blatant self-interest or expediency and as a result we are getting confused law makers, confused enforcers and a confused public.

We are creating laws for the wrong reasons, we are trying to right social ills by law and we are making it more and more difficult for the general public to not commit “criminal” acts. We are finding ways to support self-interest (Health and Safety law; confusing and expensive and easy to avoid [Pike River]) and pandering to vocal, media supported celebrities i.e. Red Peaks.

The role of Government is to Govern. It is to protect the public good and to ensure that the best interests of the people are served. Governments own nothing they are the elected custodians of the assets of the people.

We are a long way from that currently and we need to start addressing the balance and it would be good if they started applying George Laking’s rules to the laws that they are enacting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guantanamo in the Indian Ocean

It would seem to me that one of the tenets of a civilised society is that the rule of law is observed. People should not be detained without due process.

I understand in the current climate that terrorism is an issue, as are illegal immigrants and Australia must take steps to protect itself.

I do suggest that if this is done without appropriate thought then unintended outcomes will occur. I suspect there is a level of hysteria attached to the perceived threats and as a consequence a sledgehammer has been used to remedy a perceived threat.

I realise that there are some real reprobates amongst those being held on Christmas Island but where is the line drawn? I am not sure they would send back Russell Crowe or Tony Abbott’s wife but they too are eligible for deportation back to New Zealand if they transgress. They are eligible for incarceration on Christmas Island too; they were both born in New Zealand!

Australia has always had an affinity with the United States and maybe it is a matter of envy that the Americans have Guantanamo Bay so they need something equivalent, I’m not sure and I am being a bit facetious.

Australia has always embraced the ANZAC spirit, the special relationship, I suspect that they have misplaced the truism that the NZ in ANZAC stands for New Zealand, brother in arms and allies.

The current situation on Christmas Island is shabby but Australia’s treatment of New Zealanders in Australia has been getting shabbier and shabbier for some time and this current scenario is just another example of a deteriorating relationship.

I suspect that Australia is starting to feel the effects of populist politicians over a number of decades and they are playing to another populist policy to identify a scapegoat for their current and self-generated issues.

I wonder if they will now extradite Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor for their threat to Australian cricketing supremacy?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sexism and racism or any other ism for that matter.

I have never understood why as a leader you would limit your choices. If you are confident in your leadership skills then you ensure that you choose those that best suit the needs of the situation. It seems odd to me that issues related to the sex of the person should be a contributing factor.

It is so hard to get the right person in the right role. You must look at things dispassionately assess the skills, personality and fit, where the ism’s fit in this process I don’t know. Often who we don’t use says more about ourselves than it does about the candidates.

Prejudice is insidious it creeps in around the edges; it is a by-product of our upbringing. We are conditioned to hold a lens of own experiences to all activities and unless we critically evaluate what we see and how we react we are always going to repeat learned behaviours

Some are better equipped than others to do the introspection but unless it is done we will always react the same way to the same stimulus. Back to isms we can’t let our own prejudices limit our ability to get the right people in the right roles. Female, Male, Gay, different religions, races, cultures whatever it shouldn’t matter let’s try and get it right.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Flagging the debate

We have all 6 flags currently flying on the flag poles at our Golf club. I will admit to indifference until I saw them all flying!

What is a flag? In my view it is a country logo on fabric. Like all good logos it needs to be distinctive. It needs to be distinctive enough to be protected. A solid brand image is required that clearly identifies our uniqueness.

I have accepted our flag as a symbol of our nationality and gloried when it is flown but if I looked from outside what does it tell me? Again, in my view, it says we are a little Britain in the middle of the Southern seas! In this respect our flag says the same thing as the Australian flag and is not that different to Fiji.

Now that I have seen the flags flying I think the flag that is Red, White and Blue with the Southern Cross and the fern looks superb. I could quite happily identify with that flag and wear it proudly where ever I went.

Could I draw it accurately, no! I can’t draw the Stars and Stripes or the German flag either but I could get a close approximation. I like the Canadian flag because it states who they are and I suspect that change wasn’t without angst. I don’t think you would see any Canadian wanting to change back to the old flag.

I have been captured by the debate and I have made my choice Red, White and Blue for me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Boston to Vancouver with Snow and tne Rail Experience!

Adventure indeed! Very exciting and most enjoyable. 
Boston was fantastic we thoroughly ehjoyed our time with Chris. He is a very together, intelligent and nice guy. It was a great meal that ended to soon.
The news was dominated by Nemo! Not the Capitan of the Nautilus or the Orange fish no this was a storm of epic proportions. I now understand why the weather channel is so popular over here!
A wonderful trip up through Cape Cod to Boston a fantastic town. Our little car then driving through the snow, ice and sleet soldiered on seat heaters on full reached Montpellier in Vermont. Again who knew what a wonderful place it would be. The best tapas bar I've been too and fantastic local craft beer in a meter of snow was a highlight.
Our little car braved the ice and snow and off to Toronto.
Our window cleaner fluid froze and every time someone passed they sprayed our windscreen it then froze; visability got interesting on occaisions!!!!!!!
New Zealand is predominately a North South country. Driving from Montreal was 3 hours into the sun.
Toronto is delightful and the Niagara falls in Winter was spectacular. It was nearly frozen over with massive ice flows and there were very few tourists.
On to the train, 4 nights in a cabin with 2 bunks, a wash basin and a toilet about the size of a Queen size bed I had the top bunk Kerry laughed a lot both at my agility and presentation. Again we met neat people and saw all sorts things. Riding through the Prarie with no hills on the horizon was brilliant and novel. The Rockies are all they promote them to be majestic, towering and powerful and the train trip really shows them off a treat. 
In Vancouver today a bit tired, the train wasn't bad for sleeping but it still moved and jolted alot so there were interuptions.
Just a wee grizzle about the States and Canada. Their product pricing is very annoying the quoted price is not the final price and it differs from state to state. I would really like to know what it is going to cost me.