The budget: the politics of spending v tax cuts

When is a tax cut not a cut? When it just reverses a rise.

As wages rise they take some earners across thresholds into higher marginal income tax rates on their last dollars. Those people pay a higher proportion of their income in tax. It’s called bracket creep or fiscal drag.

If their wage rises have outstripped the price rises of the things they buy they might still feel better off. If not, they feel worse off.

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When the cord breaks Colin James on the fourth Labour government

Talk to Christchurch Labour, 19 May 2019

“The moment of conception is a barrier surpassed, birth a boundary crossed. Gunter Grass’s Oskar, the mettlesome hero of The Tin Drum, narrates in real time his troubling passage through the birth canal and his desire, once delivered into the world, to reverse the process. The room is cold. A moth beats against the naked light bulb. But it’s too late to turn back, the midwife has cut the cord.” – Francis Stonor Saunders, “Where on Earth are you?”, London Review of Books, Vol 38 No5, 3 March 2016.

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What’s in a budget? The next government?

Labour and the Greens have again in recent weeks been banging their heads against a wall: trying to dislodge John Key from his supra-political perch.

As ever, Key has deflected them by a combination of bland assurances, partial retreats and counterpunching — with collateral damage to innocents, including the Red Cross and Green MP Mojo Mathers.

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A character reputation being put to the test

Is someone who does not pay a fair share of tax a person of “good character”?

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) OK-ed tax-haven law firm Mossack Fonseca clients Rafael and Federico Grozovsky (also convicted of serious pollution in Argentina) to buy land in Taranaki.

John Key and his personal lawyer think that harbouring trusts here through which foreigners escape tax at home is good for us. It earns millions of dollars.

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Is there really still an A in Anzac here?

Jihadis shout “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) when killing. “To the glory of God” are the first words on the 1964 dedication plaque on the National War Memorial in Wellington.

Often a god is a companion in war.

The wilful slaughter of innocents is not the same as defence of the homeland. But not too far back in Christian history aggressors invoked their Christian God as an aide-de-camp in battle. Victory vindicated righteousness.

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Advance Australia Fair?

Introductory comments by Colin James, Wanaka Aspiring Conversations, 24 April 2016.

Tomorrow is the centennial Anzac Day, the day when we first paused in our daily lives to grieve the killing at Gallipoli and find meaning. (Worse was to come in France and Belgium.) We were on that day in 1916 two dominions linked in battle for our empire.

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Deep social change’s reform challenge to Labour

It’s been an international week: Helen Clark going for the top United Nations (UN) job; rich skunks exposed shuffling money to hidey-holes like New Zealand to avoid tax.

Both invite talk of reform: for global governance; and to secure social and political stability.

First the UN.

Anyone meeting the shy, serious young Clark four and a-half decades back would have needed deep insight and/or an expansive imagination to project her trajectory.

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The opportunity and risk in collaboration

The sea crept back up the political beach last week, a reminder of a tidal change under way.

That tide might come in faster than previously thought.

A new research paper in Nature last week suggested the melting of the massive West Antarctic ice sheet, which most scientists do think is under way and which alone is calculated to raise sea level by up to 4 metres (maybe much more), might be much faster than previously assumed.

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