Thursday 25 October 2018

Afternoon roundup

Posting has been light as other deadlines press. But I have accumulated too many browser tabs. Here are some worthies:
  • Colby Cosh on the case for using prices to reduce carbon emissions. 
    Is there really absolutely nothing you can do, even if you’re quite lower-middle-class, to create energy savings in your life? You never go to the fried chicken place across town instead of the one on the next block? Are you sure you need to own a pickup for one home reno project or a bit of landscaping every three years? Have you even looked into smart thermostats or checked your window seals? Invested in a Snuggie? Taken the old incandescent Christmas lights off the hot tub?

    The real problem is that you can’t ask these questions — even hypothetically, or even just to point out that every single household might ask hundreds of them — without sounding like an obnoxious schoolmaster. A carbon tax is social engineering — it is just an optimum, consciously designed, maximally market-friendly way of going about it. Any economist will add the implied caveat that all taxes are social engineering, and other taxes are engineering society in dumb or bad ways. A “carbon tax” is meant, for better or worse, to discourage the emission of free carbon. “Income tax,” which discourages honest work, starts to look pretty ridiculous when you follow the logic just a few inches further. But those are always the hardest inches to cross in the face of a policy novelty.

  • Pattrick Smellie reminds us how New Zealand's ban on Taranaki oil exploration can wind up increasing emissions globally:
    The oil and gas ban is proving to be a two-edged sword politically, particularly since no matter how often Woods denies it, the evidence is strong that the ban is more likely to increase than decrease global emissions of greenhouse gases.

    Especially questionable has been her claim that the vast quantities of methanol currently made from natural gas in New Zealand won't end up being produced in China, using higher-emitting coal because of China's emissions trading scheme.

    As climate change policy expert Christina Hood told the Environmental Defence Society's recent business and climate change conference in Auckland, the Chinese ETS is not really an ETS yet and currently only applies to the electricity sector.
    Our submission on the ban is here.

  • Former NZ Ambassador to Beijing John McKinnon's speech on New Zealand's relationship with China is excellent. Recommended reading.
    China is also now, what is was only potentially in 1972, a great power. The fabric of international society is woven by the ability of the international rule of law to constrain the interests of large powers such as China. This means that New Zealand, as a country which invests in and benefits from the international rule of law, has expectations of China, as it does of other great powers. That they will comport themselves appropriately, especially towards those who have less power than themselves. That is the true mark of greatness. It is pleasing to see how China has responded to these expectations, such as through its policies on climate change, and its championing of the multilateral trading system. New Zealand, along with many other countries, will be represented at China’s international import expo, to be held in Shanghai in November, and marking the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. There are many areas where New Zealand welcomes China’s voice and can and does work with it in international forums.

  • Susan St John is entirely correct about the need to better sort out residence issues with NZ Superannuation. The government is currently considering legislation that would require people to be resident longer in New Zealand to have access to the New Zealand Superannuation scheme. St John reminds us that we also need better treatment of the private retirement plans of those who bring their 401(k) with them to New Zealand.

  • New Zealand's copyright industry is trying on a push for extending the duration of copyright and messing with our current ISP notification regime for infringement; I don't wish them luck.

  • Net migration has slowed. This shouldn't be surprising. Migrants are only somewhat sticky; a lot of them leave a few years after arriving. That means that net migration figures will always look stronger than they should during upswings in inbound numbers, and weaker than they should during downturns in inbound numbers. Current year net migration is a function of current year inflows and lagged departures from prior year inflows. Net migration was always going to flatten off unless inbound figures continued to grow. As soon as inbound figures level off, then the outflows from prior year waves catch up. I'd be surprised if the anti-migrant tone of the last election campaign, combined with increased restrictions on those here without a residence visa (can't buy a house), hadn't amplified this.

  • Some folks are complaining that Christchurch might have 'too many' houses now. What a terrible problem to have! We should be thanking Selwyn and Waimakiriri for allowing growth and solving Christchurch's post-quake housing crisis. And for those who don't like the sprawling suburbs - perhaps the Crown could consider selling off some of its downtown land holdings using a descending bid auction to find out what the value of that land really is. It's felt like unwillingness to realise losses against inflated downtown land values has been a hold-up there, but I'm not close enough to it to really know.

No comments:

Post a Comment