Blue Green party: background reading

Stoked to see Gareth Morgan’s post yesterday calling for a Blue-Green party. He sums it up well in this passage

A Bluegreen party would emphatically express New Zealanders’ preference for clever and clean as the way we want our dollars earned, while leaving National and Labour to fight over how social justice is best promoted – via National’s preference for capacity building through education and training, delivering more flexible employment and wage-setting practices; or via Labour’s penchant for widening and lifting of social assistance, greater progressivity of income tax, widening the tax base on income from capital, and greater protection of labour in the workplace.

Matt and I have been talking about this since 2008 when all the TVHE authors took a political compass test as a gimmick to provide content for the blog. Due to a combination of laziness, a lack of money and no desire to get involved in politics, we haven’t done anything about our great idea. That was 6 years ago and a lot has changed since, but we still think there is room for a centrist Green party and so are stoked to see Gareth using his profile to have a serious conversation about it.

Matt did a good post on this about a year ago (There is some pretty robust discussion in the comments section).  When discussing the failed Progressive Greens party at the 1996 (which David Farrar mentions in his post on Gareth’s post) he noted: Read more

Food: Getting lost in social constructivism

After reading both the Stuff article and the initial article on Gareth Morgan’s blog and the follow up, I am convinced both Gareth and Geoff Simmons (GG) have inadvertently become extreme social constructivists – but may not realise it yet.

Now I hate it when people just whip out rhetoric like “social constructivist” and don’t explain it – so what do I mean, how have they gone this way, and what do we know about this type of framework so we can analyse it?

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Study at Vic day today

It is study at Vic day today, so if you or someone you know is a Year 13 then the Year 13 needs to head up to Victoria University – so that we can convince them that they should study Economics. [Economics is up at10.25 at HM205 and 1.10 at HM104.]

But if you can’t make it, here is a brief plan of what I’m aiming to cover (with quotes at the top which I will throw in at random times).

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Caution advised before using Tourism Industry Association numbers

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) has recently released an array of regionally-tailored media releases in conjunction with its Tourism 2014 Election Manifesto. Although we welcome healthy debate on economic issues in regional New Zealand, we are dubious of the methodology used to estimate regional tourism employment and advise extreme caution beforeutilising any of the TIA’s regional data.

The TIA’s report generates extremely unusual results. For example, the Association claims that 15%of Upper Hutt residents’ jobs depend on the tourism industry, while only 9% of residents’ jobs in Queenstown-Lakes District depend on tourism. This result defies logic and an assessment of the TIA’s methodology suggests that it should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Epsom Property Rights

I had been thinking a bit about the apparent inconsistency between David Seymour arguing against intensification in Epsom whilst simultaneously being part of the ACT party, which wants to repeal the RMA is generally against regulations.  I first read about it in Russell Brown’s post The Ides of Epsom.

Apparently, Seymour reconciles these things through appealing to an argument about “property rights”

What I’m arguing is that the people of Epsom have bought into certain property rights and the character of their community …

Now, most economists would agree that it is important to have a good system of property rights,so I was intrigued by this argument. I was going to examine this issue myself, but Eric Crampton has put this to bed quite succinctly in the tweet below. As Eric points out, unless there is a covenant in place, there is no “deal” that is being broken, which is what economists would be worried by.

Update: Eric has a much fuller discussion on his blog here

Minimum wage: International comparisons

Via a Timothy Taylor blog post, the following couple of graphs:

And an important priviso:

Moreover, minimum wages across countries should also evaluated in the context of other government spending programs or tax provisions that benefit low-wage families.

None of this is to say what minimum wage is right or wrong, or what set of social and economic policies are right and wrong.  It is instead to note that, relative to mean and median income, NZ’s minimum wage is very high by international standards.  Make of that whatever you will – and do so in the comments if you like.

My views on the minimum wage will appear at another time – far in the future.  For now all I want to share are graphs.