by Brian Easton

The government has promised a ‘wellbeing budget’. No one seems to know what that means. We can set out some preliminary economic understandings.

There is a story of a little old lady who woke up after a close election and was told that the result was a ‘hung parliament’. She responded that she did not know what that meant, but it sounded like a good idea.

While Chris Lee’s “The Billion Dollar Bonfire: How Allan Hubbard and the Government Destroyed South Canterbury Finance” traces the rise and fall of the finance company, it also provides valuable insights into how the financial system works – or doesnt.

At the core of a successful economy is ‘trust’. Buy a can of beans and your decision depends on trusting a whole chain of suppliers. Admittedly, you also trust that the law is working in your favour too; it usually does.

Traditionally Capital Gains Tax (CGT) has been politically untouchable. What does the handling of the issue tell us about the government’s political skills?

The focus of this column is what we can learn from the government’s handling of the capital gains tax issue. However, let me first say something about the case for it.

Are New Zealand managers good enough; are we relying too much upon them?

A senior official in the State Services Commission once told me that they thought that they got only about 60 percent of their appointments of their chief executives right. Some closer observers of the state sector thought that the official was optimistic. Let’s stick to the 60 percent, although it would not matter for this column’s purposes if the true figure was 80 percent.

The Public Finance Act is one of those boring statutes which shapes the nation’s wellbeing.

The power to tax and spend is at the heart of our constitutional democracy. In 1649 the English beheaded their monarch; one of their grievances was that he was levying taxes without parliamentary authorisation. The 1688 Bill of Rights, which limits his successors, is one of the few English statutes which is a part of our written law.

Inequality is not confined to income and wealth; it is in our healthcare and education systems. Is Labour trying to reverse the trend?

Eighty years ago, the First Labour Government imbedded New Zealanders’ aspirations for an egalitarian society in the welfare state it created. Thirty years ago, both the Labour and National Governments began an assault on that egalitarianism and the traditional welfare state.

If we really are serious about regional wellbeing, we may be pursuing it in the wrong way.

Economic theory is not strong on spatial issues. There have been the occasional brilliant contributions – those by Paul Krugman and Gunnar Myrdal come immediately to mind – but most economists are trained with little attention to spatial relations. Which may explain why regional economic policy is so inept.

Far too much policy is driven by mañana: when tomorrow comes we panic.

It was political genius to establish a royal commission to consider the role of the security agencies in the mosque massacres. I did not know that Simon Bridges, who first proposed it, had it in him.

On Friday March 15, there were two major protests – school students concerned about the future, a terrorist facing toward the past. What are we to think?

On the Ides of March 2019, thousands of New Zealand school students – and hundreds of thousands of the world’s – marched to say that not enough was being done to stop global warming.

New calculations suggest that the farm sector is not adding as much to the greenhouse gas clouds as previously thought. But there remains the challenge of global warming which farmers must still take up.

Still winter nights without rain clouds are usually followed by a frost. The clouds reflect back the heat coming off the earth maintaining higher ambient temperatures, thereby reducing the risk of frost.