Tag Archives: New Zealand

I Think I’m Moving To New Zealand

In the wake of the mass murder of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand, I have seen the leadership and citizenry of that country exhibit what I used to believe were American characteristics of goodheartedness and solidarity.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response was nothing short of inspiring. And then I came across this Time Magazine report:

Women across New Zealand are wearing headscarves in a show of support for the Muslim community, one week after 50 people were shot dead in two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

Women and children have posted pictures of themselves wearing headscarves on social media Friday, with words denouncing last week’s violence and expressing solidarity with victims of the shooting. “I stand with our Muslim community today and against hate and violence of any kind,” one Twitter user wrote.

What a contrast with our blathering, self-besotted President and his white supremicist  supporters, who have made it abundantly clear that they view Muslims–and for that matter, anyone with dark skin tones or religious views other than fundamentalist Christianity–as dangerous, illegitimate and even less than human.

While Trump supporters are chanting “build the wall,” which even they must know is an entirely symbolic edifice meant to emphasize our country’s disdain–if not hatred–for those they consider “other,” New Zealand women were engaged in an equally symbolic gesture of goodwill:

Auckland physician Thaya Ashman told Reuters she thought up the “Headscarf For Harmony” event after seeing a Muslim woman on the news say she was too afraid to go outside wearing a hijab. “I wanted to say: We are with you, we want you to feel at home on your own streets, we love, support and respect you,” she said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore a black headscarf during her meeting with members of the Muslim community–a gesture of respect that I cannot imagine being copied by anyone in the Trump administration.

I’ve never been to New Zealand. I’ve seen photos, including those posted by my oldest granddaughter, who recently vacationed there, and the landscape is magnificent. A friend who is a healthcare scholar tells me the country has an excellent national health system. I’ve heard the weather is wonderful too.

But the country’s climate of goodwill and civility–demonstrated in the wake of this tragedy– is the most attractive feature of all.

If I were younger….

Eliminating Welfare

When I first became interested in economic policy, I found Milton Friedman’s advocacy of a “negative income tax” appealing. As I recall (and I read about it a long time ago), the idea was that people making more than a set amount–presumably, an amount sufficient to live on–would pay taxes, and those making less would receive a supplement bringing them up to sufficiency.

One virtue of such an approach would be to cut out the costs of the significant bureaucracy devoted to administering complicated systems of public assistance.

As I say, I read this a long time ago, and my recollection of the details is hazy at best. What brought it to mind was reading about a proposal currently under review in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Labour Party is considering the concept of a basic “citizen’s wage.” Andrew Little, leader of the Labour Party, confirmed this as the result of the potential for higher unemployment in in the coming months and years. “Citizen’s income” is also known as Universal Basic Income (UBI). The idea is that everyone gets a basic amount of money to live off of, like a wage, and benefit systems are gotten rid of.

Switzerland and Finland have introduced similar systems.

I haven’t seen studies comparing the costs of such systems to the patchwork, cumbersome and demeaning welfare programs we currently administer, but I suspect a citizen’s wage would save considerable tax dollars.

Of course, I’m sure the very idea would raise howls of protest from the self-righteous legislators who want to punish people for being poor, and who seem to enjoy telling welfare recipients what they can buy at the grocery…