Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Saxon Villages of Transylvania: A Mediaeval Model for the Future Eco-Village?




I was prompted by an article in the most recent Ecologist magazine to find out more about these remnant mediaeval villages as a potential model for future farming as I see it.  All the links from the article had the inevitable "coffee-table magazine' look about them- pretty flowers, wild animals you know the sort of thing- triumph of style over substance.
Eventually I came across this report commissioned by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and published way back in 2001
Part one:
http://web.archive.org/web/20110717123238/http://www.kimwilkie.com/image...
Part two:
http://web.archive.org/web/20110717123238/http://www.kimwilkie.com/image...
It still has lovely pictures but more importantly it has diagrams, aerial views and descriptive text. The producers of the report have included the inevitable nod to "sensitive tourism" and  "appropriate integration of agricultural technology",  but then this was ten years ago before peak oil awareness and agricultural commodities were at very low prices. The need for "cash earners" was predicated upon the notion that cash is needed to provide the "mod-cons" that must be provided to discourage all the young people from deserting their communities.  I believe that ten years later with agricultural prices rising, peak oil a historical fact a billion hungry people in the world and apparently a change of heart in the E.U. that has until recently sought to destroy the remnants of "peasant farming", this mode of living could suddenly become very attractive to those who formerly might have wished (and been encouraged by politicians) to abandon it for a "better life" in the cities.
I am particularly impressed by the combination of family autonomy in the gardens and arable lands and community co-operation in the use of the common pastures and woodlands. As you will see from the village layout the houses, yards and barns are all very similiar in size indicating a self-imposed egalitarianism in these communities (remember these people were free peasants- not vassals of some feudal lord). I am sure that hundreds of years fighting off Mongol and Saracen hordes built a great sense of community solidarity.

I have been a long time looking for a model of what I see as a realistic and practical solution to post peak secure and sustainable living. Here I find inspiration- but sadly I have little confidence in our ability to act in a suitably urgent fashion. Perhaps I need to take a crash-course in Romanian language!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Well-Measured Critique

A well measured critique by Strypey of Michael Cropp's supremely un-critical regurgitation of what appears to be a press-release by Rau Hoskins. Mr Hoskins appears to be more interested in raising his personal profile than contributing anything tangible to current concerns about housing arrangements, quality and affordability. He is quite right to argue that "the...approach to housing... is not even working for Pākehā people, because we see marooned elderly people in their own homes, or living away from their children or living in rest homes", but using the term "euro-centric" is disingenuous to say the least, as is his claim that "the desire to live in close proximity to each other is a uniquely Māori dimension". It is mere posturing and hard to believe that a person who is an academic as well as a practicing professional actually believes his own myopic spiel.
Arguably, the Marae in its current form bears more resemblance to a mediaeval european village than to pre-colonial Maori dwelling arrangements such as the Pa, which in turn bears a resemblance to more ancient forms of European settlement such as the hill-fort. This is not to suggest they are in any way derivative -it is simply a matter of form following function. Since Maori were largely a rural and self-sufficient population until after WW2, it is hardly surprising that the urban Marae still retains a cultural inheritance from its rural counterpart. Europeans, and specifically the British, have four centuries of agricultural enclosures and industrialisation alienating them from the functional root of such communal living.
The current position is brought about by historical development rather than innate cultural difference. It's disfunctionality is largely predicated by the contradictions of the modern world.
  • The demand for a more mobile workforce in industial society than was previously required in the agrarian world.
  • Affordable transport options.
  • The tendency towards property ownership rather than renting or tied-housing. This has brought about the distortion of values (both moral and financial) by the economic function of property as investment for individuals and collateral for interest-bearing debt for the banking system.
  • Social and inter-generational disintegration, arguably a result of the replacement of common culture by "fashion" i.e. the desire of individuals and cohorts to express difference rather than "sameness".
  • The list is probably almost endless.
    New Zealand is in a particularly odd situation since the entire built geography of the country was created by colonial edict rather than by natural progression. Thus roads connect ports to farms in a dendritic pattern to facilitate penetration of capital and extraction of value, rather than a network to facilitate communication within and between communities. This has has a profound effect on attitudes towards property and created a virtue out of isolation, probably simply because it has become a cultural norm. Most NZers aspire to detatched living on a large section and this is institutionalised in planning law by rules of "one title one dwelling".
    I agree wholeheartedly with Strypey's reservations about the role of Maori Incorporations. If they see an advantage as purchasers of social housing they are doing so from a purely commercial perspective rather than altruism. It is a mistake to view these institutions of Maoridom as in any way benign or socialistic in intent. This is a colourwash applied by some activists and those Maori with a vested interest. One of those vested interests would be Mr Hoskins himself as the Incorporations would be potential future clients. I would go as far as to say that his interview or press release was designed to position himself thus.
    I think it is a flawed argument for Floydian Nectar to suggest that the government forced the Maori Incorporations to be set up in order that the government could deal with Maori on terms dictated by colonial culture. Whatever pre-colonial Maori culture was in terms of their view of property, their world was hierarchical and authoritarian. This is the reason that the Maori Party and the Incorporations are such a natural fit with the National Party. Ordinary Maori have, by and large, moved on from that view, which is why they have rejected the Maori party so vehemently, though I think that they, along with many ordinary Pakeha who might be expected to vote for Labour, have yet to find a vehicle for political expression.
    It was always in the power of the Maori incorporations to use their wealth to set up new types of social and economic structures that would empower ordinary Maori yet most choose not to. A few did use a large amount of their funds to facilitate direct benefits to their people but these cannot be sustained without structural change.
    I see the Marae and the Permaculture inspired co-housing / eco-village project as manifestations of essentially the same intention. The hurdles are to defeat the resistance of conservative ideology that has a vested interest in retaining the neo-colonial economic model and to make the concept as attractive to the general populace as it is to (some) Maori.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just Say No To Corporate Greed: The Case Of Iceland

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30662.htm




Just Say No To Corporate Greed: The Case Of Iceland

By Ellen Russell

February 28, 2012 "
Rabble" - - Capitalism is looking pretty mean these days. No amount of profit is enough, and no level of collateral damage to get that profit is unreasonable. And when capitalism on steroids runs amok, any extremes of public pain are justified to save the butts of those who made the mess in the first place. Corporations understand that they have a green light to punish people ruthlessly for even a modest improvement to their bottom line (ask Caterpillar workers if you want details). Whole nations may be bled dry to shield financial institutions from the consequences of their own bad behaviour. The Greek government is deliberately creating a national great depression to appease international financial interests.
Happily there are some instances of people saying no to this madness. Iceland is a great example of people who stood up and fought for civility.
Iceland used to have a sound but not too adventurous government-owned-and-operated banking system. It more or less did what it was supposed to do to serve local needs. An orgy of neo-liberalism in the 1990s culminated in the privatization of the banks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The mavericks who took control of the newly privatized banks took corporate greed to extreme levels. They caught the worldwide disease of speculative euphoria, and made immense profits as the country's banks started doing some pretty crazy stuff.
Financial journalist and former investment banker Michael Lewis offered one financier's apt depiction of the hocus pocus that was going on in Icelandic banks: "'you have a dog, and I have a cat. We agree that they are each worth a billion dollars. You sell me the dog for a billion, and I sell you the cat for a billion. Now we are no longer pet owners, but Icelandic banks, with a billion dollars in new assets.'"
This lunacy was largely fuelled by borrowed money. Iceland's top three banks went on such a pathological borrowing spree that their assets were 10 times Iceland's GDP. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this loony behaviour will end badly. When the speculative bubble burst, all three of the country's major banks suddenly collapsed.
Since Icelandic banks had borrowed so heavily, there were a lot of angry creditors looking to get money back from the government of Iceland. Intense pressure was exerted to force Iceland to compensate anyone that lost money when Iceland's banks hit the wall -- regardless of whether those out-of-pocket were local depositors or international financial high-flyers who should have done their due diligence before getting involved with dodgy hijinks. Governments around the world were issuing blank cheques to pay for the sins of their bankers, and Iceland should be made to pay too.
But the people said no. Weekly assemblies outside parliament made it clear to politicians that the people were not going to be forced to pay for the craziness of the bankers. Politicians responsible for the crisis were given the boot. Out went the prestigious David Oddson, who as Prime Minister (and later as chair of the central bank) had championed the neo-liberal agenda. Geir Haarde, Prime Minster at the time of the crash, has been brought up on charges concerning his handling of the crisis. A left-green alliance elected Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who is herself a trailblazer as an openly lesbian head of state.
Iceland's government faced intense pressure to compensate those financial interests hurt by the wreckage of Iceland's bank failures. The shoot-out at the OK Corral came over the misadventures of one defunct Icelandic bank that had expanded willy-nilly in Europe. When it collapsed, Britain and the Netherlands rushed to bail out its creditors in an attempt to buttress confidence in their own financial sector firms.
Now the British and Dutch governments demanded that Iceland reimburse them. Naturally Britain and the Netherlands figured they bore no responsibility for their lax oversight in allowing dodgy upstart Icelandic bankers to jeopardize British and Dutch financial stability.
The total bill was US$5.8 billion, but the sale of the failed bank's assets covers a big chunk of that bill. The estimated final cost to the people of Iceland to compensate these foreign governments would have been over $2 billion. That is a lot of money for a country with a population comparable to that of Windsor, Ontario. A deal was proposed that Iceland pay back this debt -- with interest -- until 2046.
OK, dear reader, are you sitting down? Because this just might knock your socks off: Iceland figured that this matter should be democratically decided. Those radical Icelanders actually demanded that they vote on the decision to compensate foreign governments.
The people decided not to pay up. In fact, they held two referendums and it was voted down both times. In the words of a spokesperson for the anti-bailout coalition, "It is totally insane that taxpayers foot the bill for failed private companies. It was odious. We had to say no."
Very ominous threats were made that Iceland would become an international pariah. The U.K. even used anti-terrorism legislation to freeze the Icelandic bank's assets in Britain. Litigation is still ongoing as Britain and the Netherlands seek ways to force Iceland to pay.
Of course, Iceland went through some tough times in the aftermath of the financial meltdown. Ordinary Icelanders suffered plenty because of the economic fallout from the recklessness of their banks. But Iceland is emerging from this mess in much better shape than it would have been forced into the equivalent of a country-wide debtor's prison. Even the IMF is holding up Iceland as an example of how to overcome deep economic dislocation without undoing the social fabric.
All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Iceland. They took a stand and held their ground when all of the forces of international capital were allied against them. Whether it is at Caterpillar or in the streets of Athens, we all benefit when people say no to paying the price for corporate greed. Every time we just say no, we have a better shot at demanding sanity in the face of barbarism.
Economist Ellen Russell is a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her column comes out every two months in rabble.ca.

Friday, December 9, 2011

EU now belongs to Goldman Sachs

 This is from uk.yahoo news. I always like this stuff from mainstream sources as I feel that, for doubters and waverers, it carries more weight than stuff from the more "alternative" sources.

See the original article by Ian Dunt at Yahoo! Newsblog

Italy is no longer a democracy. It is a frontier outpost in the gradual takeover of governments by the financial markets. When technocrat Mario Monti was installed and filled the government with unelected administrators, it was not just a defeat for democracy, it was a victory for the banks.

Monti is Goldman Sachs' man. He was lifted out of academia by Berlusconi in 1995 to work at the Europe Commission, first in internal markets and then on competition. The bank spotted him and made him international adviser.

Something similar happened in Ireland, where Peter Sutherland, attorney general in the 1980s and former EU competition commissioner, became non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a non-executive director of Royal Bank of Scotland, until, you know, it collapsed, and we had to share the pain — but not, it goes without saying, his salary.

Mario Draghi, who recently became president of the European Central Bank, is a former Goldman Sachs man, as is Antonio Borges, who recently stood down from the IMF for personal reasons.

The banking lobby could not win its war in Greece, where creditors — the big banks of Europe - were forced to lose 50% on bonds. This was an unprecedented defeat, although not one which will save the Greek people from brutal and self-defeating austerity for a generation.

The banks made sure they won their other battles. The big fear, that they could lose out from the situation in Spain and Italy, will not be realised. The most important aspect of Merkozy's eurozone deal this week is that it rules out creditors ever having to shoulder a portion of future bailouts in insolvent eurozone countries.

Even the use of current IMF practise - that experts should decide on a case-by-case basis whether bondholder losses are necessary - is being negotiated, with a push for it to be moved from the text of the treaty to its preamble, where it would have no legal weight.

The idea that creditors should not suffer a loss when their investment goes wrong is the reason we are inflicting unparalleled economic and social misery on Europe. The austerity measures, the rescue funds, even the European Financial Stability Facility, derive from this principle, the principle that whatever happens, we must not penalise the banks. Every national bailout is in fact a bailout of the banks. Add it to the bill.

By cementing the complete subservience of European political life to the market, the Markozy deal does an extraordinary disservice to our continent and our society. But it doesn't stop there. The deal also suggests automatic sanctions on countries that allow a budget deficit of over three per cent of GDP and inserts a rule into eurozone countries requiring a balanced budget. Unlike creditor amnesty, this is at least a commendable economic and political principle - but it directly overrides the principle of national sovereignty.

Nicolas Sarkozy has been offered joint press conferences with Angela Merkel, complete with a torrent of barely-conscionable photographs of them kissing. But these presentations are merely theatre. Everyone knows France is an afterthought. We are seeing the takeover of European national sovereignty by Germany, which will effectively wield a veto against individual states' budgets. The national angle is easy to overstate, however. Germany is merely the handmaiden of the financial markets, which got us into this place and now sit like vampires turning their own catastrophe to their advantage.

The markets reacted with sluggish enthusiasm to news of democracy's acquiesce. Spain's ten-year bonds were down 5.2% while Italy's fell to 6.3%. With commendably comic timing, however, Standards and Poor intervened to put major European economies on watch. Only the best will do for the markets, you see. They won't be pacified until they have total immunity set in stone.

It won't fix the problem in the short-term, because it will kill demand and force European economies into a death-spiral. It won't fix the problem in the long term, because fiscal fetishism, while bafflingly politically popular, does little against what is, at heart, a balance of payments crisis made particularly acute by currency union. Actually, fiscal austerity makes us particularly vulnerable to cyclical downturns.

And what has David Cameron's response been to this dramatic turn of events? He has shown even more contempt for democracy than his counterparts on the continent. The left — a political designation Cameron spoke of as if it was contemptible during last week's PMQs - wants the public to be protected from the tyranny of the markets. The right wants some recognition of national sovereignty in Europe, some guarantee that their worst dreams of an ever-expanded, monstrous technocratic super-state are not being realised.

Both left and right are correct. There is plenty of scope for cooperation in preventing this disaster from unfolding. The idea that investors should be protected from the ramifications of their gamble is not a capitalist one — quite the opposite. The idea that the public should swallow losses and be denied profits is not capitalist either. Similarly, there is nothing right-wing about believing countries are entitled to make their own laws and their own budgets, without the arrogant intervention of other, more powerful, states.

Cameron has shown himself deaf to both concerns. He has ignored eurosceptic pleas to extract Britain from the situation and his only demand in exchange is that the City of London be protected from further regulation.

Paris and Berlin's desire for a financial transaction tax is self-interested, but that does not make it wrong. It is at least one small commendable action against the tyranny of the financial markets.

Opposing it is not, as Cameron says, in the national interest. The national interest would see Britain take action against a financial sector which has ruined its economy and now demands public austerity for its own mistakes.

The modest proposals for a financial transaction tax constitute one small ray of hope in utter darkness. It is one the British prime minister is intent on defeating. Not only will he support the dismantling of European democracy, he will do so on the basis that he can promote the market's dominance even further than the puppets of Europe would tolerate.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stuart Jane Bramhall -The Solution to the $100 Trillion Global Debt

I tip my hat to Stuart Bramhall!  I rave -on post after post about the debt crisis and the criminal banking system and here she wraps it up in one succinct post. Go to her original post and add her blog to your reading list - and don't forget to peruse her archive material too.
  
The Solution to the $100 Trillion Global Debt- by S.J.Bramhall

There seems to be broad agreement among both classical corporate economists and latter day non-corporate ones that the $100 trillion global debt is suffocating the world economy. The large amount of debt banks carry on their books severely restricts their ability to issue loans for the business creation and expansion needed to create jobs. At the same time consumers, who are losing jobs or taking wage cuts aren’t spending money. Because of massive drop in consumer demand, corporations are finding other uses for their record profits (CEO bonuses, for example), rather than reinvesting them in new factories or retail outlets.
Where the two economic schools part ways concerns the solution. Externalizing costs (getting someone else to pay for your messes) is a basic pillar of classical, corporate economics. In the case of the global economic system, the investment bankers who crashed the system through greed, fraud and speculation want the middle class, youth and the poor to pay for their recklessness. Although mainstream economists like Ben Bernanke agree that debt reduction and austerity cuts aren’t enough, they refuse to officially endorse “monetization” as part of the solution. This is why he calls it something else (QE1, QE2 and QE3 – which are short for quantitative easing) and fudges on the true amount of monetization that is occurring.
Ending Debt-Based Money, Perpetual Growth and Ecosystem Destruction
On the other side, most latter day, non-corporate economists (for example Ellen Brown, Steve Keen, Deirdre Kent, Thomas Greco, among others) call for an end to our debt-based monetary system and perpetual economic growth, along with a “downsizing” of the economies of the industrialized north in line with dwindling resources and rapid ecosystem destruction. They make a strong case that the citizens of western society are living beyond their means and must drastically reduce consumption if we are to preserve the human species. The problem is figuring out how to get there without creating an intolerable level of human suffering for disadvantaged groups who already struggle to meet basic survival needs. It’s much easier for mainstream corporate economists, who have already decided to reduce the global debt burden on the backs of the middle class and young people, dooming an entire generation to becoming a marginalized underclass. Instead of doing any belt tightening themselves, the richest 1% are using the economic crisis as an excuse to further increase their personal wealth.
Political Reform Must Accompany Economic Reform

Most latter day economists are committed to the principle that belt tightening is only tolerable if it’s shared equally. Here is where a discussion of solutions becomes really hypothetical. There is no political commitment at present for the ruling elite and special interests to share in the belt tightening. Thus true economic reform is highly unlikely so long as corporations continue to dominate and control western democracy. It’s possible that the economic and ecological crises that confront humankind can’t be fixed without dismantling capitalism itself, a view shared by many in the Occupy movement. Others believe that channels can be created (through constitutional conventions or similar national gatherings) to establish direct participatory democracy and make corporations accountable to local, state and national authorities. It’s only in this context that economic and monetary reform has any chance of being meaningful and effective.
Latter Day Economic Solutions to the Debt Crisis

Where there is political will to share the costs equally for fixing the financial crisis, there are a handful of straightforward policies which, if enacted together, could restore global economic stability within months. Monetization (the good kind, where new government money is spent directly into the economy) is a major one, but monetization alone is unlikely to be enough. As the Germans proved after World War I and the Japanese after their 1989 economic collapse, monetization on its own only makes things worse – either by creating hyperinflation or increasing debt and deflation. To work, monetization must be enacted simultaneously with other basic debt reduction measures:
  1. The world’s largest economy (the US) must end their deficit spending, not via austerity cuts, which will only worsen deflation, but by ending their deficit-financed wars in the Middle East, by repealing Bush’s tax cuts on upper income earners and by ending corporate tax avoidance.
  2. Western governments must require global investment banks to forgive the sovereign debt they have incurred by assuming their toxic assets (their valueless subprime mortgages). This extent of forgiveness (referred to as a “hair cut”) must depend on the amount of toxic debt these banks still carry on their books and the extent to which they have insured themselves via Credit Default Swaps. Banks that become insolvent in this process need to be nationalized, rather than bailed out, to protect depositors and pension funds with major bank shareholdings.
  3. World governments must agree to end the private debt-based monetary system and replace the Federal Reserve and other central banks with national government banks charged with creating and controlling the money supply.
  4. These national banks must be allowed to create and spend new money directly into the economy to create jobs and repair infrastructure, make good on depositors savings and repay unforgiven debt. To avoid incurring new debt (i.e. borrowing from future generations), it may be necessary to temporarily increase taxes (above 39% in the US) for millionaires and billionaires.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What about the "New Economics Party?"

I've seen a video courtesy of  Robin Westenra's blog:
   
 
   
-and seen their website
   
Still I can't get my head round their website, seems like a dogs dinner of vaguely populist ideas mostly adopted because of their acceptability to the disposessed without actually requiring them to get off their arses and become responsible for their own sustenance, i.e. we just adjust certain facets of the structure of the economy and all good things follow.
   
 The trouble is that any movement that is aiming to achieve prominence by collecting votes is doomed to populist policy. This party is clearly aimed at urban populations that don't own land, don't have access to land, dont want to work on the land but see land as a priviledge of the wealthy that can be taxed to provide an income stream to be given free of any commitment to do real productive work to those who have become unhealthily attached to their urban service sector "thinking rather than doing" lifestyle jobs that are in reality only possible because of the anachronism of a century of subsidy by cheap oil.
   
 These guys really need to understand the concept of distributism, which is a well thought-out concept of land use that is the only way that everyone is going to get fed in the post oil age. Unfortunately working the land is an abhorrent thought to the vast majority of those in Auckland or Wellington and that is where political power (and civil disorder danger) lies. For these populations, I'm afraid only the misery of an empty belly at some future time will be sufficient to cure them of their attachment to town life. See here my blog post on supply chain collapse for likely outcomes.
 
For a seriously plausible alternative economic strategy see Positive Money NZ.
 
Deirdre Kent of the New Economics Party replied:

There is nothing populist about our policies. We leave that to the Green Party to go for the middle ground and not campaign on the urgent issues of our time which are positively alarming. No one is going to argue that recommending a 4-6% decrease every year in our oil imports would appeal to anyone except those who know the reality and know we must face it.

If you think it is a "dog's dinner" by which you mean it doesn't fit any previous models (actually I meant it was a basketful of snippets from here-and-there) you are right. No other party wanting the whole world to have access to food, housing, water, health, education and social justice is currently recommending such a radical reversal of tax policy.

We say we need to tax unearned income not earned income. After all it was the banks in the early 20th century who demanded of our government that they impose income tax, we didn't have it in NZ up till then. GST is regressive and why should any government tax enterprise?

On the other hand, as Greens have pointed out for two decades, prices give the wrong signals because companies and individuals use water, land, oil, artificial fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides etc and society pays the price of clearning up the mess, (rivers, toxic sites and so on). The way to internalise costs is to charge an annual rent for the privilege of using that part of the commons you "own". Many industries today can only operate because their costs are externalised – an "I keep the income, someone else pays the costs" mind-set.

As Charles Eisenstein says in his book Sacred Economics "The price of a tank of fuel doesn't include the cost of the pollution it generates, nor the cost of the wars fought to secure it, nor the cost of oil spills."

Ours is a party that recognises that more people need to return to the land and to work the land. Just outside our major cities we watch as lifestylers commute all week and play on horses and ride-ons all weekend but don't use their valuable land for growing food. And meanwhile they watch their property value rise as community infrastructure round them is built by others while they gain unearned income. Here where I live I know a guy who bought his land on a river near a town which was growing. He bought it for $400,000 and it is now worth over a million while he has worked in Wellington and let the property decline and decline. And our council wants people to grow food on our good land! But without tax signals and rating on unimproved value they are relatively helpless. Ridiculous and unfair.

Our policies of imposing resource taxes rather than income tax and GST are designed to reward those who work to improve their properties. If they are not working the land they should sell it to someone who does.

Actually when an Australian NGO called Earthsharing Australia did some research on land values they found that the biggest concentration of land value was in the centre of the cities. A land value tax is the way to stop speculators sitting on valuable sites and waiting for them to appreciate. As the 2009 Tax Review stated a land tax will bring in income from overseas owners where before they didn't pay tax.

And our policy is that those who contribute back to the commons should be monetarily compensated. This includes farmers who remove land from production to provide ecological services like carbon sequestration, water and soil conservation or provide habitat for plants insects and fish.

With land value taxes and the removal of the incentive to speculate on land and resources the cycle of boom-bust is evened out. The price of land remains more even and doesn't rise exhorbitantly.

The Greens in their campaign seem to have one resource tax – the tax on the commercial use of water. This is a good start. Capital gains tax will never do it for land though.

 Kevthefarmer Replied:
  
I have to say, re-reading the website there is nothing in the NEP that I can disagree with apart from the Land Value Tax, which I find perverse and offensive in every way, and which provoked my snarky blogpost.
  
"But income is a poor predictor of someone’s ability to pay. Their wealth is a much better predictor, and much of their wealth is often tied up in property."
  
 Cursory examination shows this to be untrue. All farmers (and most people will be a farmer in the not-to-distant future) -are capital-wealthy and cash-poor.  You (or someone) use the phrase "tied up", which indicates lack of liquidity- which is exactly the case with land holding, whereas income is a liquid asset and is easily available for taxation purposes. This whole passage is an oxymoron. The perversity is that a person using the land for a productive purpose rather than speculation runs the risk of being driven off their land by the Valuation Officer. This happened to some fairly smallscale (few hundred acres) farmers in Golden Bay (Laurences turf so he should know) because the V.O.realised they had "million dollar views" of the mountains and sea!  Land Value Tax is popular with government book-keepers because you can"t export or hide the land. therefore it is easy to charge. That is its only "advantage".
  
Death duties and capital gains tax do work well for a wealth tax, given certain exemptions such as first dwelling house and land farmed in-hand. Community Land Trusts and the State could be exempted
Do you realise that land based industry only accounts for 5% of GDP in NZ, whereas service sector is 70% and manufacturing is 25%. how do you propose to extract a significant proportion of the more-or-less 40% of GDP that the state requires for its purposes from a sector that only accounts for 5% of GDP?

There is more- Let me join the discussion at your website!

Regards, Kev.

Predatory Banks Target NZ Farmers Again.

Well I just started to write a snarky bit of Agribiz-knocking invective but I thought I'd stop myself and take a bit of a different tack and bash the banks, which is really boring because that's what I do all the time. This article in Stuff.co.nz -Business Day entitled "Banks need to be choosier lenders"  gets the point completely backwards. The fact is that farmers need to be choosier borrowers, in fact, like the rest of us they need to not borrow but to pay down their debt as fast as possible- there will be no debt write-offs for those holding physical assets such as land -not even the however many of them that are sitting in parliament on the National government benches. Good point actually -can you be a sitting MP and a bankrupt at the same time? Perhaps we won't have to endure the full three years of this government after all.
   
The author of this article so wants to not take sides, be everyones friend. Why not tell us about the bullshit "audits" the banks offered farmers, totally slanted to encourage the taking of loans- I know about these things- I have a farming insider down in South Canterbury tells me, though anyone with a pulse ought to know intuitively that's what these sharks do for a living.
  
"The insinuation was that anyone over 50 is too old to be farming". More like too old to be intimidated / bamboozled into signing on the line eh?