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Maxim Institute - real issues - No 217

Maxim Institute - real issues - No 217
10 August 2006

www.maxim.org.nz

AN AFFRONT TO HUMAN DIGNITY
DEVELOPING KIWI GLOBAL CHAMPIONS
CONSERVATIVISM ON THE INCREASE

IN THE NEWS:
DRIVING AGE QUERIED
OMBUDSMAN TO CONSIDER REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON SCHOOLS
FIVE WEEKS LEFT UNTIL ESSAY COMPETITION CLOSES

AN AFFRONT TO HUMAN DIGNITY

A new report released last week has reignited debate on the moral status of the human embryo, by positively embracing an existing technique that allows embryos to be screened for abnormalities before they are implanted in the womb. The Law Foundation-sponsored report, Choosing Genes for Future Children, also recommends reviewing the current prohibition on sex selection of embryos.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a process which involves scanning embryos that have been created as part of the IVF process to see which are defective. Those with undesirable traits are then disposed of, and the chosen non-defective embryo is implanted in the womb. PGD has been government-funded since 2005 and currently is only allowed to remove those embryos with genetic abnormalities, not to select the sex of a child. The report, written by an expert panel, recommends reviewing this prohibition.

Some disability groups, such as the IHC and the Disabled Persons Assembly, rightly view the existing use of PGD as an attack on the human dignity of disabled people because it allows embryos with disabilities to be destroyed. Those with genetic abnormalities, like Downs' Syndrome, are an inspiration to us when they compete in the Special Olympics, and we congratulate ourselves that we are a society which makes room for disabled people. However, our medical guidelines, and this report, tell a very different story, in which there is no room for children who are disabled, or even a different sex than that which parents want.

It is hard to conclude that those with disabilities have an equal place at the table when they are not even welcome in the womb.

For more information on the report, Choosing Genes for Future Children, please visit:

www.otago.ac.nz
http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/2006/01-08-06_press_release.html

DEVELOPING KIWI GLOBAL CHAMPIONS

New Zealand sports teams are renowned for punching above their weight overseas, but a report released by the New Zealand Institute this week, "Developing Kiwi Global Champions", makes the case that we could be doing a lot better at making our economy more globally competitive by giving our firms a greater incentive to expand overseas.

One of the highlights of the report is a proposed tax rebate for firms that would help them finance expansion into international markets; something that is often a challenge for New Zealand, because of the small scale of our economy and our distance from important markets on the other side of the world. To complement the tax rebate, the Institute also recommends a further change to our tax laws, so that companies will not be taxed twice for the income they generate overseas, as they are now.

It stands to reason that the more diverse we make our international exports, services and foreign direct investment, the better the return will be for New Zealand. Reducing the tax burden on firms would help foster the aspiration among firms to exploit lucrative opportunities beyond New Zealand that they might not otherwise pursue, helping us to remain a player in the world economy.

To read the full report, please visit:

www.nzinstitute.org
http://www.nzinstitute.org/index.php/globalnzeconomy/paper/dev_kiwi_global_champions/

CONSERVATIVISM ON THE INCREASE

The University of Otago's Department of Marketing yesterday released their study on consumer lifestyles, with the finding that New Zealanders are becoming a more conservative bunch. The survey found that these days Kiwis are longing for more tradition, authority and politeness; place more importance on honouring our parents; and are no longer as worried about equality and inner harmony. It was also found that, contrary to popular belief, we do still hold the institution of marriage in high esteem, and that many of us think that advertisers are overusing sex to sell their products.

The nationwide survey of over 3500 people found the emerging existence of a group of people labeled as 'Conservative Quiet-Lifers', which consists of 'homebodies' with more traditional views. They have replaced the group from the same survey five years earlier known as 'Accepting Mid-Lifers', who were the least opinionated and active of all population segments.

The report suggested that the change in the atmosphere of the nation may be due to the volatile international situation. Hearing of the terrorism and insecurity in the world, along with local factors such as the establishment of civil unions, may be causing people to hanker for a return to more traditional values. This goes to show that when the things that people value are threatened, people often re-evaluate what is important in life.

IN THE NEWS

DRIVING AGE QUERIED

A visiting British expert has, this week, criticised our driver licensing system for letting 15 year old "children" get behind the wheel. Kate McMahon, who was the head of the Road Safety Strategy Division at the UK Department of Transport, says that at age 15, drivers are unable to make decisions and react at an appropriate level to be safe on the roads. In 2005, drivers aged 15-19 years old were involved in 83 fatalities and 2457 injuries in New Zealand, and in an effort to lower this, it has been suggested that our system be brought into line with Britain where drivers must be 17 and requirements for obtaining licences are much more stringent.

OMBUDSMAN TO CONSIDER REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON SCHOOLS

A letter has been lodged today with the Ombudsman seeking greater access to information about schools. The SchoolSMART website, which contains information about school performance, cannot currently be accessed by the public. The disagreement between National and Labour over whether parents should have access to the website has been ongoing for several months and investigation by the Ombudsman may well bring a resolution.

FIVE WEEKS LEFT UNTIL ESSAY COMPETITION CLOSES

Five weeks remain to submit your entry for Maxim Institute's 2006 essay competition which asks tertiary students: "What is social justice and what would a socially just society look like?" $3,500 is on offer for the winning essays.

Entry details and a list of recommended reading can be found at:

www.maxim.org.nz http://www.maxim.org.nz/essay/

TALKING POINT

"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness." George Washington (1732-1799)

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Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action.

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ENDS

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