Top 10

On Friday I gave interest.co.nz a Top 10 which, in a sense, considered trade, immigration, and social policy – at least in terms of some of the principles we used to discuss trade-offs.  Go over and give it a crack 😉

Pre-distribution and Post-distribution

Note: This is an outline of thoughts rather than some type of persuasive argument – in time I should make an effort to flesh out all the little bits in this, but it is just a run down of my current general thoughts.  Take it as such and feel free to provide constructive feedback 😉

Anyone who reads this who also read my writing pre-2014 will remember that I was a strong post-distributionalist when it comes to social insurance policy.  To the point where the term pre-distribution (or predistribution) did not appear on TVHE when I did a search.

Since then the economic environment has changed and I have spent more time considering these issues.  So have my views changed?  Let’s consider the issue.

Tl;dr No, but I think the terminology can be used more clearly. With regards to redistribution – if our concern is the distribution of income alone pre-distributionalist policies are indirect and inefficient.  But pre-distribution policy prescriptions have relevance when discussing issues of transition – which is essentially insurance from shocks, and the provision of job/income security (as apart from a security net).  Such insurance can be costly, but is still worth discussing in this frame. Furthermore, if we stretch the term pre-distribution far enough it becomes ridiculous – sure the whole study of economics concerns the distribution of income, but the name is used for a subfield for a reason.

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Future of work?

While I have been buried in literature regarding New Zealand’s policy past I have not been paying too much attention to what politicians within New Zealand have been saying.  This has led me to miss the growth in xenophobia in New Zealand – with the suggestion of putting a levy on “foreign workers” now being seen as sensible policy by the Labour party.  This disappoints me greatly, and I am genuinely hurt that society is moving this way over here.

Although growing xenophobia in New Zealand and around the world disappoints me, I struggle to believe it is the result of a truly racist preference.  Instead the growth of, or at very least the perception of, economic insecurity is undermining principles of tolerance.  In that way there is a role for government to improve outcomes – not by attacking other groups – but through its role as the provider of social insurance.

It is in this way that the Labour party’s willingness to discuss the Future of Work is encouraging.  A lack of economic security, both in terms of income and perceptions of status, is one of the key reasons why society coordinates insurance policy through a central government – the scope and nature of this needs to be discussed and evaluated as the world changes.

And in this way the recent NBR piece by Rodney Hide that was approving linked to by David Farrar makes no sense to me.  I don’t disagree that politicians use empty rhetoric – Hide as a former politician has plenty of experience doing that himself.  In fact the article is filled with its own meaningless slogans about wealth generators and needing to be an experienced businessman to discuss industry.

There is a meaningful debate to be had about the nature of social insurance in New Zealand, and the way we help people transition between jobs in the face of technological changes and other changes in the global economic environment.  This is a debate that we ignored in the 1980s and early 1990s which has undeniably hurt certain groups in society.  This is a debate that has been ignored in the UK and US and has led to the election of increasingly authoritarian governments pushing increasingly intolerant policies that the majority feels will give them the security they lack in the labour market.

Morally I have long felt that the Western middle class (myself included) should accept the idea of slower growth in living standards to reduce global poverty – although premised on the idea that there should be more domestic support to helping those who lose from any change to transiton.  But recent elections around the world show they haven’t, and the status costs associated with these changes (and growth in income to the wealthiest in these countries) has led to a backlash.  Not just that, but the changes have occurred in a way that has – for many – undermined economic security.

This is a relevant issue for policy makers and the public to discuss, and making sure we talk about these so that the trade-offs involved are transparent and the value-judgments we are making as a society are clear is essential.  Attacking policy suggestions on the basis that the report is too big and you don’t know what the programs are – like Hide does – doesn’t help.

 

The problem with Economists

I am disappointed with Paul Krugman (ht Economist’s View).

Now don’t get me wrong, I am against almost everything that Trump plans to do.  I am socially liberal, his tax policies (and the sharp cuts and spending that will need to be implemented) will redistribute away from the poor, his tariffs programs will hurt the vast majority of Americans and undermine the rate of reduction in absolute poverty in other low income nations, and his lack of trust in the Federal Reserve is likely to erode independent monetary policy.  Furthermore, his divisive rhetoric and willingness to create “other” groups to blame failures on point to a dark undercurrent within the US and within his administration.

But none of these things suggest:

Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Or:

So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

When these things don’t happen, it will further undermine the credibility of economists – and implicitly tell Trump supporters and opponents that ALL the costs economists had said would occur from his election do not exist!

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#VoteAKL 2016 maps

I had a bit of a play around with mapping the voter return data from the 2016 Auckland local body elections (raw data available here).  I looked at it two ways:

  • What areas had the highest/lowest turnout? (i.e. where is participation high/low)
  • What areas had the highest raw number of votes? (“who elects the mayor”)

Maps addressing these two questions are below.  Note that they don’t include Waiheke, mainly because it’s not part of the “Coastlines” shapefile I used to crop the board boundaries and I decided the effort of separately mapping the board area to the “islands” geographic shapefile wasn’t worth the effort given I have a day job (i.e. I am lazy).  If you are wondering, turnout on Waiheke was very high (58.6%).

Percentage turnout

final-turnout

Number of votes final-votes

Visualising the Auckland Unitary Plan: IHP Recommended Version

Given there appears to be a lot of misinformation being spread about the Unitary Plan, I OIA’d the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) recommended version of the Unitary Plan (aka the “RUP“).  This follows on from Stephen Davis doing an OIA for the previous version the Council proposed back in 2013 (the “PAUP”).

The purpose of this post is really to collate a bunch of stuff I have been throwing up on twitter so there is a record of it.  Also check out Aaron Schiff’s very cool analysis of the overlays in the Unitary Plan (heritage, volcanic view shafts etc…) and the Herald Insights visualization of the residential zones, which overlaps a lot with I have here.  (Update: The Spinoff have a some amazing maps here).

All of the maps that appear below can be accessed directly here.

How the single house zone changed

The first thing I looked at was how the Single House Zone changed between the 2013 PAUP and the 2016 RUP.  I initially created separate static maps, but at Aaron Schiff’s suggestion I turned it into an animated GIFSHZ change 2000ms

This demonstrates how much of the Single House has been removed, it’s astonishing really!  Though note it still has a stranglehold around the CBD.  Those areas with the best amenity the CBD, and thus which would be most valuable if intensified, are being frozen in time.

I also made an interactive map combing the two sets of data, with RUP in solid red and the PAUP set to be transparent.

Direct link to map

High-rises everywhere?

The big fear around the unitary plan is that we are going to get high-rise apartments in the middle of leafy suburbs.  The sentiment is nicely capture by this tweet:

I’m not sure what the average person would consider “high-rise”.  The famous “Painted Ladies” in San Francisco look to be 3.5 storeys and I don’t think most people would consider them high-rise (see below).

With this in mind, I did a map of the areas allowing residential development greater than (>) 3 storeys.


Direct link to map

As you can see this is concentrated around public transport (PT) trunk lines and employment centres. The burbs are relatively unscathed, except the parts within walking distance of PT or jobs.

Where is Auckland Staying flat?

The flip side of the previous question is where will Auckland “stay flat”.  I’ve looked at this two ways:

  • “Flat” = up to three storeys (i.e. the reverse of the previous high-rise map) ;and
  • “Real flat” = up to two storeys

Flat (up to 3 Storeys)

Direct link to map

Real flat (up to 2 Storeys)

Direct link to map

Conclusion

Either way you define it,  residential Auckland is actually staying pretty flat, at least based upon a very unscientific eyeballing of the maps.

One map to rule them all

And the last map I did is probably the first map I should have done.  This map contains all the zones allowing residential development and allows you to turn certain zones on or off under “Visible Layers”, allowing replication of any of the maps above.  Note that because I am using a free version of Carto, I had to lump city/town/metro/local center into one layer.

Direct link to map