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Maxim Institute real issues. No. 134, 28 OCTOBER

Thu, 28 Oct 2004

Maxim Institute real issues. No. 134, 28 OCTOBER 2004

Contents: --------- * "Philosopher pulled world apart with his mind"

* Veto likely on tax index idea

* What is happening with school zoning?

* Compass Worldview Leadership Conference

* Masterton Change Agent workshop


"Philosopher pulled world apart with his mind" ------------------------------------------------------------------------ So read the obituary in the Otago Daily Times last week to 74-year-old Jacques Derrida. This was no idle boast. Derrida said, "If I was a legislator, I would quite simply propose the removal of the word and the concept of marriage from the civil code."

You may have never heard of Derrida, but you have certainly experienced the consequences of his ideas. He is the father of "deconstruction", the literary theory that says that "all writing [is] full of confusion and contradiction...all texts, whether literary, historical, or philosophical, are devoid of "truthfulness, absolute meaning, and permanence."

We need look no further than Derrida to see the source of the havoc being wreaked on marriage in New Zealand. He advocated:

" 'Marriage', an incarnation of religious, sacred and heterosexual values with the accompanying vows of procreation and eternal fidelity, is a concession made by the secular state to the Christian church and in particular its monogamous form which derives neither from Jewish ... nor Muslim [traditions]. In suppressing the word and the concept of marriage, this equivocation, this religious hypocrisy which has no place in a secular state, there would be in its place a civil union, something contractual, a sort of generalised civil marriage, improved, refined, flexible and able to be adjusted between partners of whatever sex or number."

It all sounds terribly familiar.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=134.1

Veto likely on tax index idea ------------------------------------------------------------------------ United Future wants to index income tax bands to inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI). In the context of increasing state power and dependency, it makes sense, even though it's a small change. The number of taxpayers in the highest tax bracket has doubled since 2000, and the number in the lowest has fallen by 5 percent.

Gordon Copeland, United Future's finance spokesman, wants the $60,000 threshold reset to $68,000, and the $38,000 threshold to $43,000. The lowest level would increase from $9,500 to $10,750. The rises, he claims, would be equivalent to a real wage rise of 13 percent.

ACT, National and perhaps New Zealand First will support the initiative, but the Finance Minister Michael Cullen says he will reject it with the government's financial veto.

The government is running huge surpluses, and there is a temptation for it to further increase citizen dependency by increasing handouts to the middle class rather than lightening their tax burden. The Finance Minister's willingness to use the financial veto suggests he is more concerned with retaining government power than citizen freedom.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=134.2

What is happening with school zoning? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ On Monday, the Minister of Education announced that the number of schools with enrolment schemes (or zones) is dropping. On Tuesday, figures were released indicating that the number of schools with zones is increasing. So what is actually happening? It depends on what you look at. In each year since 2000, the number of schools with zones has increased from 320 to 474 in 2004.

Although the figure of 474 schools is lower than the 1999 figure (495) when the current zoning scheme was introduced, what is notable is the trend since 2000.

Many parents are critical of zoning, saying it is inherently unfair because it favours those with money. An Auckland participant in a Maxim education research study said: "It's hard for good people to go into the really high priced areas to get the really good schools for their kids." A Christchurch participant noted that zoning, "brings in a bigger element of 'you have the money, you have the choices'". Parents stated they want more direct control of their children's schooling with zoning identified as a major frustration

The report shows that if there was a feasible alternative to zoning, parents would welcome it. Maxim believes a policy review should look at allowing greater accessibility by examining the zoning regulations, looking at how schools are funded and lifting roll caps on schools that have capacity.

Maxim Institute commissioned an independent researcher to undertake qualitative research on parental opinions for "A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand". The full report and a summary of the report are available at: http://www.maxim.org.nz/ed/ed_snapshot_home.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=134.3

Compass Worldview Leadership Conference ------------------------------------------------------------------------ "Ideas shape the course of human history" - J M Keynes

Maxim speakers will be presenting at Compass 2005 (see http://www.compass.org.nz/events/summer.php ), a worldview conference designed to help young leaders engage with the ideas and worldviews shaping society, along with other local and international speakers.

To learn more about Compass visit: See... http://www.compass.org.nz

Masterton Change Agent workshop ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Masterton will host the tenth Change Agent workshop for 2004 on Tuesday 9 November. The seminar will address the current issues of civil unions, education and hate speech.

For more details see: See... http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/whatson_page/whatson.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Time Magazine ------------------------------------------------------------------------ As history has demonstrated, a relative handful of human with strong ideas and a determination to pursue them has an outsize impact on the rest of us.

(Time Magazine feature article '100 people who shape our world' 26 April 2004)

To subscribe send a blank email to: See... realissues@maxim.org.nz

Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the 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. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

Key principles - The Building Blocks of Civil Society
See... http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/about_page/about_keyprinciples.html

ENDS


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