Saturday, June 19, 2010

proliferation of e-book readers, but...

...from our perspective it seems like the purpose is to make profits from the hardware. None of those on sale are cheap, one needs to be a committed book buyer for the excerise to the worthwhile. And how many allow the e-books files to be read of other platforms? Certainly Amazon and Apple don't seem keen on this.

As has been said before, we like good old fashioned printed books for a number of reasons. They will work anywhere and don't use any electronic hardware or require a power source. They feel good and despite the claims, are just as easy to use as e-books.

We plan to regard the printed book as the primary form of a book, the e-book as a poor substitute when the economics of reprints aren't favourable. And those we do offer will be pdf files that can be read on any mainstream computer. We make the background look like paper as much as is possible, as those who visit our main
website will see.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Royal Wedding in Sweden this weekend

In Europe there are monarchies other than that of the UK, but in NZ only the British royal family receives any attention in the media. This is probably because the others are not good British types, as Peter Shirtcliffe ("Who?" - see our previous posts) would put it.

So, for some nice feelgood reading, particulary for women, here is the official webpage (in English) on the wedding of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling; the ceremony takes place in Storkyrkan (literally the big church) in Stockholm on 19 June.

Prime Minister of Slovenia gets only €3,000 a month

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor has told students that he cannot live on his salary of €3,000 (about NZ$5,255) a month and has to dip into his savings to make ends meet.

Pahor was speaking at a conference on students' rights, at which students protested against government plans to limit their right to work and more than double the tax on their earnings to 29.5 percent from 14 percent.

"I'm a prime minister and I earn 3002 euros (net) per month ... I cannot survive on that and I live from what I earned before," Pahor said.

Although a former Eastern bloc country, Slovenia is the wealthiest former European communist country and was the first to be allowed to adopt the Euro. Given that Slovenia's population is half that of NZ, it nevertheless demonstrates how massively overpaid NZ's politicians and government organisation bosses - some of who get the equivalent of €25,000 a month - are in comparison.

If Bill wants to balance the NZ public budget, he could start by cutting these people's salaries. If they protest and claim that they would get more in Australia, then let them go there - they won't be missed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

a railway lesson from Norway for Steven and the Treasury

NZ Transport Minister Steven Joyce and Bill's Treasury could well look at how much has been spent and is spent on Norway's railway system compared with how little they want to spend on that of NZ.

Stand in Oslo's central station pretty much any time of day and you will see swarms of people heading to and from commuter trains and longer distance trains.

"Well you'd expect that, Oslo is a much bigger city than Auckland," Steve and the Treasury will respond.

No it isn't; the population of Oslo is only about half that of Auckland.

"But Norway is a much bigger country than NZ, right?"

Wrong again, it's population is only about 15% more than NZ's.

"But, but... NZ is a small mountainous country, spending money on improving railways through it is a lot more than in Norway... right?"

No, Norway is similar to NZ and very mountainous - the highest point on the railway system is a good 400 metres about the highest point on NZ's.

"But lines like Napier to Gisborne in NZ just can't work, look - no-one uses them."

Maybe that's because you spend nothing on maintainance and improvements to the line, Steve. On a long line like Trondheim to Bodö in Norway which ends at Bodö, and which serves communities about the size of Gisborne, there are two passenger trains a day the whole way each way, plus local railcars over parts of the route, plus plenty of freight trains.

"Sheesh, it's got me. Why can't our smart alecs in Treasury see that?"

Maybe the smart alecs in Treasury aren't so smart, Steve.

Monday, June 7, 2010

GST lessons from Finland

In the days of Helengrad (or the Helen Clark power centre in Wellington), the Treasury loved Finland and used to produce reports on how NZ could be like Finland. It is not clear how Bill and John now view this, but their decision to increase GST on everything from October is certainly going the opposite way to Finland.

In Finland two reduced GST equivalent rates are in use: 12% (reduced in October 2009 from 17% for non-restaurant food, and from 1 July will encompass restaurant food also), which is applied on food and animal feed, and 8%, which is applied to passenger transport services, cinema shows, physical exercise services, books, pharmaceuticals, and entrance fees to commercial cultural and entertainment events and facilities.

Supplies of some goods and services are exempt Finland: hospital and medical care; social welfare services; educational, financial and insurance services; lotteries and money games; transactions concerning bank notes and coins used as legal tender; real property including building land; certain transactions carried out by disabled persons.

Why do Bill and John want to collect more tax from everything regardless of its relative social value? One thing they could and should do is tax petrol a lot more: in Finland petrol currently costs 1.42 Euros per litre, or about NZD 2.65 a litre, over a third more than in NZ, and use that tax to pay for work on the roads - make those who use roads pay for them, not make everybody pay for them.