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Scoop Feedback: Three Readers Share Their Thoughts

In this edition: The Colour Of Ignorance – Green - Where Is The Promised "Light At The End Of The Tunnel"? - I Take Exception (Scoop Feedback 12 Oct) - "All For One, One For All" - The Resource Management Act

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The Colour Of Ignorance – Green

For millennia religious extremists, soothsayers, and mystics have preyed on a fear of the unknown to promote their self-interests. This low-grade form of terror is parasitic on general ignorance. The newest assemblage to jump on this hoodwinks bandwagon, their policy couched in misinformed secular idiom, are the New Zealand Green Party.

The Greens anti-GE “intuitive, natural, organic” philosophy is nothing more than a convenient myth. A myth supporting the ideological dogma that scaffolds their tenuous grip on Beehive power. And one need not look further than any 11th grade geography or biology class for arguments that explode their myth.

The current population of this planet is an agricultural, medical and technological artefact. Agriculture is by no stretch of the imagination “natural”. Ever since we moved out of caves and began organised cultivation we began a process of artificial selection which resulted in an array of genetically modified crops and organisms differing vastly from their genetically mottled ancestors. Richard Dawkins reminds us, “A wheat grain is a genetically modified grass seed, just as a Pekinese is a genetically modified wolf”. Are we playing God (whatever God might be)? Perhaps, but eradicating smallpox, or defeating the AIDS virus, if we could, are generally not seen to be tampering with Gods plans. Putting aside the industry and scientific community spin-offs for the moment, genetic engineering, in particular cloning and stem cell research has the very real potential to vastly improve people’s lives. Bio-technologically modified food crops offer chances varying from development of edible vaccines, a huge boon for the developing world, to elimination of allergenic proteins in certain foods. The ethical choices might be more confronting than breeding Pekinese but the underlying science is the same. Of course there are risks and issues as there are with any developing technologies and the Royal Commission acknowledges this with it’s “proceed with caution” recommendation.

We have choices about what we want our agricultural (and biotechnology) industry to look like in 5, 10 or 15 year’s time, notwithstanding the nurturing of our scientific communities but appeals to “intuition” and “nature” ought not to be the preferred methodology. What is required is rational scientific analysis, the questions that need to be answered are empirical ones rather than spiritual. The Greens have demonstrated that they are not interested in this kind of methodology. In ignoring the recommendations of the Royal Commission, a commission they insisted upon, they have not only thumbed their noses in the face of expert research and opinion but they have effectively thrown the baby out with the bath water.

The much lauded “brain drain” phenomenon is not just about better money overseas it is about research and development opportunities in our own country. Current prospects look bleak as a systematic “dumbing down” of high tech industry sectors continues in the face of the espoused knowledge wave drive. The Green party is not only politically irresponsible regarding its stance on genetic engineering and the recommendations of the Royal Commission, but it is patently unscientific in its approach. This is contrary to the Governments pursuit of a knowledge driven economy and it (the Government) ought to ignore this squealing minority at all costs.

Regards

Steve McKinlay

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Where Is The Promised "Light At The End Of The Tunnel"?

Dear Editor,

Release of recent statistics from WestpacTrust and Treasury and the interpretation of these by an analyst advises that: Each New Zealand household is now worth, on average, a net $148,300. This is down more than $16,000 from its September 1997 peak of $164,500 and Total household debt has increased some $19Bn to $73Bn from the comparable 1997 figure of some $54Bn and this excludes some $4Bn in student loans.

Much is said to explain this including the facts that, "New Zealand is simply catching up with other countries with deregulated markets" and "that people are 'smoothing' their consumption patterns".

However, the study appears to overlook two very significant facts:

1 the decline in Net Wealth has been continuous from around the third quarter of 1999; 2 the largest increases in annual Total Household Debt appear to have occurred in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Looking at these facts and the timings, it becomes clear there is one common feature, the election of the Labour Government.

Since then, there have been:

increases in top tax rates (stifling investment and growth);
increases in the brain drain (stifling investment and growth);
increases in non-skilled immigration with low socio-economic opportunities (stifling investment and growth);
removal of almost all import tariffs (stifling investment and growth);

But wait, there is more:

Cancellation of the third Anzac frigate (stifling investment and growth - ask Whangarei); increases in welfare benefits (causing increased opportunities for stifling investment and growth).

But wait, if one has patience you can get more.

forthcoming Paternal Leave provisions (stifling investment and growth); re-nationalisation of selected strategic businesses (stifling investment and growth).

The list goes on and, it does not take a financial wizard to realise that, if mismanagement of New Zealand and its economic opportunities continues on its present path, the chance of being optimistic rather than pessimistic of our long-term future diminishes with each passing quarter.

Mirek Marcanik

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I Take Exception (Scoop Feedback 12 Oct)

Dear Editor,

Confirming my figures relating to the LAVIII purchase for New Zealand defence ( which Mike Campbell took issue with - 12 Oct ):

The 2,131 LAVIII's being purchased by the US amounted to US$4billion (Source-Janes World Armies 9 July 2001). That equates to US$1.877M each, or at current exchange rates NZ$4.523M.

The cost of the 105 LAVIII's for the NZ Defence Force is now approaching NZ$800m (actually NZ$750M) or NZ$7.143M each. (Source-Questions in the House).

Further details of costs for other items will follow when I receive advise back from the Acquisition Division of the Ministry of Defence.

As for the F-16A/B aircraft, the Block 15-OCU (Operational Capability Upgrade) variant that New Zealand was to have purchased/leased rolled out in 1982. These aircraft are powered by the more reliable F100-PW-220 turbofan. They also had structural strengthening and ere provided with the enlarged HUD that was first introduced on the F-16C/D variants. A number of other modifications and provision for additional capability was included.

Not a bad replacement for the ageing, subsonic A-4K Skyhawks.

Mirek Marcanik

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"All For One, One For All"


Dear Editor,

Latest Background Notes on New Zealand, issued by the U.S. Department of State (Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs - October 2001) seems to sum up just where New Zealand now fits in the scheme of things as far as the U.S. is concerned.

Under "National Security" New Zealand has three defence policy objectives identified: - defend New Zealand against low-level threats; - contribute to regional security; - play a part in global security efforts.

Further, New Zealand considers its own national defence needs to be modest.

New Zealand states it maintains a "credible minimum force" (the parenthesis is theirs not mine).

It is further identified that "With a claimed area of direct strategic concern that extends from Australia to Southeast Asia to the South Pacific" it has defence expenditures that total around 1% of GDP and, therefore, necessarily places substantial reliance on its defence relationship with other countries, in particular Australia.

Reading between the lines it is clear that, despite all the "warm fuzzies" following the arrival of the new U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, the U.S. remains ambivalent toward New Zealand.

This is very apparent when studying the section on "U.S. - New Zealand Relations.

Having suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand in August 1986 (that is, for the U.S. to act to meet the common danger - where one existed), because of the intransigence by New Zealand governments to either lift or modify their stance on nuclear powered vessels, it is noted this continues to preclude a bilateral security alliance with the U.S.

Does this mean the U.S. has absolutely no obligation now to assist New Zealand in the event she were under threat?

Not a point Helen Clark or Mark Burton have highlighted in all their rhetoric about New Zealand not needing a fully balanced defence force because "our allies would provide those aspects we do not have". Who else is there either willing or capable except Australia.

The next little bit is probably the most damning of the entire Background Notes.

"Despite suspension of U.S. security obligations, the New Zealand Government has reaffirmed the importance it attaches to the continued close political, economic and social ties with the United States and Australia".

Of course it does.

The United States is New Zealand's second largest trading partner after Australia. Total bilateral trade for 2001 was $4.1bn, with a $106 million surplus in favour of New Zealand and U.S. direct foreign investment in New Zealand (as of March 2001) total $3.1bn.

What these "Notes" suggest, is that the U.S. is neither fooled or impressed by a nation that wants to continue enjoying all the political, economic and social advantages of any association with the U.S. (or Australia) but is not prepared to pay its way.

"All for one, one for all is the motto. Not "I want it all, but am prepared to give nothing".

Mirek Marcanik

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The Resource Management Act

Dear sir,

On its tenth anniversary, it’s timely to examine the RMA, an act that has fundamentally challenged and usurped the concept of private property rights.

While the RMA has been a godsend for bureaucracies, planners, lawyers, consultants, green control freaks and political parasites; it’s a pestilence on the productive, who are now held subservient at the behest of the non productive. In other words, the productive must seek the permission of the non productive, to produce.

When a tree (or any structure) on private property is deemed to be in the public¹s view, or be part of the people's landscape, or have intrinsic value, and therefore needs public protection and listing on a District Plan, and it requires resource consents and Iwi approval to allow development, then we have public ownership (government control) over the tree and the land it grows upon.

The RMA, in it¹s 500 odd pages, never once mentions private property. One can only presume this Œoversight¹ was carefully planned and sold as an environmental salvation. It¹s a pity these planners overlooked that, common law has over seven hundred years of success, in protecting both property rights AND the environment. The only recourse is to repeal the RMA.

Barry Cole

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Scoop readers letters to the editor are gratefully received, and almost all will be published in full. Please send your epistles, bouquets and brickbats to editor@scoop.co.nz

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