by Brian Easton

New calculations suggest that the farm sector is not adding as much to the greenhouse gas clouds as previously thought. But there remains the challenge of global warming which farmers must still take up.

Still winter nights without rain clouds are usually followed by a frost. The clouds reflect back the heat coming off the earth maintaining higher ambient temperatures, thereby reducing the risk of frost.

Kevin O’Rourke’s ‘A Short History of Brexit’ provides an excellent introduction to the British muddle, but does not resolve it.

Brexit is a comedy by Samuel Beckett about suicide. However it seems to involve a numberless (and numbing) number of acts. If you have arrived at the theatre late, you may not do better than catchup by reading A Short History of Brexit: From Brexit to Backstop by Kevin O’Rourke.

Taxing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

The public discussion on a capital gains tax (CGT) has quickly descended into ignorance, hysteria and self-interest. Is there any point in trying to make an analytic contribution? I guess this columnist would be pointless if he did not try.

Is the public debate underpinned by quality journalism or is it dumbing down?

In the course of a discussion of a related matter a retired public servant commented to me:

The city’s motto is 'Palmam qui meruit ferat'. (Let him, who has earned it, bear the palm.) Not sure that reflects a modern New Zealand city. Why does Nelson deserve a palm?

In terms of ambience and style, Nelson City reminds me of the New Zealand I grew up in half a century and more ago. I do not mean that it is not a modern city. The shops reflect today’s customers – gone are butchers, haberdasheries and milk bars – and there is a steady increase of good quality restaurants.

The report on the failings of the life insurance industry raises the wider issue of how we regulate markets throughout the economy.

The headline ‘life insurance firms put sales and profits ahead of customers’ is a troubling one. It summarises a report by the Financial Management Authority (FMA) and the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) which concludes that some life offices have often been working against the interests of their clients. My troubling does not arise because the proposition is false; it is almost certainly true.

The theories one uses needs to be explicit, especially when the issue is as complicated as Brexit or Trump.

Two of my intellectual mentors, Maynard Keynes and Karl Popper, give broadly the same advice. Be aware that you are using theories; be sensitive to their assumptions, to their limitations. Very often our public discussions involve no awareness of the underlying theoretical constructs, let alone their weaknesses (as well as their strengths).

This column is not about the Government successes nor the Opposition failures. Its purpose is to learn from the various flapdoodles, some of which are significant, some of which are trivial.

Own Goals

What advice does Trump’s book give to the current President of the United Sates?

Back in 1987, Donald Trump published a book that was part autobiography and part extended essay on how to become a winning negotiator. The Art of the Deal became a number one bestseller, and it was one of the things which put Trump into the public spotlight.

The Ardern-Peters Government appears to be comfortable with neoliberalism. Is that because it does not know of any alternative?

The awarding of a knighthood to accountant Rob McLeod raises some interesting questions about the attitude of the government to Rogernomics. I am not competent to judge McLeod’s worthiness for the award; I am a republican and do not approve of titles. Nothing written here should change your view of McLeod, nor the worthiness of his knighthood.