Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The utterly idiotic as a guaranteed policy success

The notion that a couple of vicars have figured out that there is such a thing as a living wage, have gone on to sort out what that “number” is and further opined that it should apply freely to one and all regardless of consequences is utterly idiotic and bizarre.

So much so that no one bothers to summon up the energy to take it to pieces and advise these Gents to stick to their arguably easier to justify belief – that God is a good fellow and to be followed… at least that is their core business.

Since no one serious (those who believe in free lunches are not serious) takes this particular sermon seriously, no one takes the need to demolish it seriously and – thus – it meets no serious opposition (apart from the almost single handed Farrar blog).

Result? A number of institutions such as the Auckland City Council decide they will implement it. Various other nut bars, as one of my esteemed legal colleagues refers to such persons, leading various other (presumably) nuthouses are keen to follow suite.

Somewhere someone did say – if you are going to tell lies – make them big lies. Apparently the advice is sage.

Policy by idiocy is a dangerous process – we would do well to beware.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Energetically Russ ty

Not for the first time Russell Norman’s struggles with logic hit again this week as he claimed that the sale of Mighty River power had lost  hundreds of investors squillions of dollars and thus the asset sales programme was a disaster.

He might ponder the possibility that:

  1. Had he and friends not threatened to centralise energy sales in a government run bureaucracy thus scaring the bejeebus out of even modest historians of the the 20th centuries centralising powers the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and so on, they might have lost a good deal less; and,
  2. Since the shares had been sold to the public it was the private sector investor not the tax payer who bore 49% of the pain emanating from his ill thought out scheme. Asset sales then saved the precious state and its long suffering taxpayers from the risks imposed on them by him and his ilk.

Sometimes even a glancing blow with logic would help.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dangers of “Talk Back Research”

A recent article by Mathew Dearnaley of the NZ Herald (see below)reports on some conclusions from the coronial inquiry into 94 cycling deaths since 2007.  The findings are noteworthy in the following:

- contrary to “submissions'” the majority of cyclist deaths are not caused by cars.

Moral: Submissions are typically opinion, based on small  samples and frequently just wrong

- of 13 deaths, in 12 cases cyclists were wearing helmets

Moral: A regulation forcing action on one aspect of a complex process is typically of no great use

- 3 of 5 people dying wore hi-viz clothing. A small sample as well but in these cases at least bright tacky colours were of limited value – look elsewhere for safety

Moral: Do not make hi-viz compulsory, it creates illusory perceptions of safety.

And the article itself………..

Middle-aged men appear to be the group most at risk of being killed cycling, and wearing high-visibility clothing is no guarantee of survival.

Those are among conclusions of a coronial inquiry into 13 cycling deaths, which also took account of 81 others since mid-2007 - representing an average of more than 15 a year.

The victims ranged in age from 6 to 93, with an average of around 46 years, and more than three-quarters were male.

Coroner Gordon Matenga said he was surprised to find that 58.5 per cent of deaths were the result of cyclists' errors, which was "contrary to every submission to me which suggested that motorists were deemed to be responsible in most cycle crashes".

He noted there were no other vehicles involved in 35 of the deaths, but motorists were responsible for 57.6 per cent of 59 fatalities in which they collided with cyclists.

Of 13 deaths since 2010 which Mr Matenga was asked by Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean to focus on, 10 involved collisions with vehicles, whose drivers failed to see the cyclists in five instances, despite three of the five cyclists wearing high-visibility clothing.

Cyclists also wore helmets in 12 instances, the exception being an intoxicated man who was run over after tumbling off his bike.

Mr Matenga noted submissions from the Cycling Advocates Network that making high-visibility clothing compulsory would become a barrier to people cycling, and that the more riders on the roads, the safer they would be.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

The melting of logic

What exactly is the value of this little effort:

Much of northern New Zealand, including Auckland, and parts of the South Island would be almost wiped out by rising sea levels if all the world's ice melted, according to new mapping by National Geographic magazine.

I’m sure that is the case just as there is absolutely and without doubt a positive probability that you will die if you are born.

Even the National Geographic tells us that this melting would take 5,000 years. A little longer than a long term Government bond then.

I’m sure the cartographers at National Geographic had a “big time” doing the mapping and since its paid for by consenting subscribers that’s cool. It was a dead easy story to fill a hole in a newspaper or two and it passed the time for people to read it…

As for anything else? To the extent that there are serious issues to discuss regarding climate change this sort of self indulgent, speculative nonsense merely threatens to stop people taking the discussion seriously. Editorial judgment in publishing this 2/10 (the 2 is because the map may be colourful).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A spot of insurance reality might assist....

Has anyone in the Opposition twigged to the fact that without the Australian insurance industry the vast majority of Christchurch earthquake claims outside the EQC would never have been paid out? The tea coupon and kumbyaar company failed just when it was needed most - when its long suffering policy holder owners made claims. Ditto beyond Christchurch as well.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Politics is Always About

Asked on National Radio what he thought of the Oppositions newly announced housing policy, former Party President Mike Williams replied “It should appeal to young people.”

Not “it will help address housing problems” or “it will be an excellent start to solving some problems” or even “poor”. None of those – just straight for the political jugular – will it appeal in the vote grabbing game.

This serves as a curt reminder that politics and politically derived policy has little to do with problem solving and everything to do with “appeal” and votes.

This is neither peculiar to Williams – he is one of the best at this game . It has everything to do with the remembering never to rely or even depend heavily on politics, political processes and politicians to solve anything much that matters.