Thursday, 22 March 2018

Things that should be obvious

A short list:
  • If a small oil-producing country ceases producing oil, it has no particular effect on the price of oil or oil consumption because the rate of extraction increases (very slightly) in other places that have more oil. It has no short-run effect on climate change. Maybe in the very long term, where want of New Zealand's supply affects prices, it could have an effect. But the main effect is to punish companies doing that work in New Zealand and their workers. If you want to reduce oil consumption or greenhouse gases, you need to reduce demand for it by increasing the price of it. 

  • If you're the Regional Economic Development Minister and you want more flights to towns where the main carrier doesn't find service to be commercially viable, and if no other carriers pick up service to those towns, then you could put out an RFP for provision of service to those towns and let the carriers bid for it. It's still a bad idea, because it may then induce carriers to drop service in some towns in hope of subsidy. But it's a less bad idea than yelling at the company's CEO and demand that he run an unprofitable service to the detriment of the shareholders who aren't the NZ Government.
    • Jones was pandering in this. He isn't an idiot. It would have been surprising if he hadn't known that he was demanding something he had no authority to demand and that it would be unwise for the CEO to actually do*. He was pandering to voters who are idiots (and induced one Labour MP to reveal type in the process). But there is a point where this kind of thing has a metastupidity bordering on evil. Pandering to idiots in ways that erode economic institutions is rather not good. Creating the impression that a decent chunk of the governing coalition has little respect for the rule of law is bad. This kind of talk is the stuff of tinpot dictatorships and Trump. 

  • Legal markets for marijuana and ecstasy and the safer party pills, where products were subject to the Consumer Guarantees Act and where producers adulterating products would be punished, would stop Fentanyl-laced drugs at concerts and would be far more effective than ramping up punishments for producers of synthetic drugs. National pushing for increased penalties on this one is a travesty. They tried, with Peter Dunne, to set up a legal highs regime that could have reduced harm, then buckled under pressure. Now, for what seems like the sake of getting a trivial win by carving NZ First away from Labour on a vote Labour won't care about, they're further wrecking the prior regime rather than trying to fix anything. 
Blaise Drinkwater provides an excellent summary of the stupidity of National's bill upping penalties on synthetic cannabis. At least some National MPs will have figured this out. That they are supporting it anyway is not good.

Just about every political party has disgusted me this week, and we still have two days left.

* Note that Damien Grant contests Geddis's [linked] contention that Directors doing this would be behaving illegally: where the company isn't insolvent, Directors pushing small unprofitable activities aren't likely in breach. I am not a lawyer. But egads the Minister shouldn't be talking like this. 

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