Thursday, February 25, 2010

What I Did On My Holiday

I've just managed to have my summer holiday, by dint of being able to get Harvey's caregiver in to stay, and tacking one night with friends and two nights at Mt Maunganui on to a trip to Tauranga and a night with my sister Ruth for my birth mother's 90th birthday.

Mary looked wonderful - my sister Ann bought her a terrific new outfit, a very nice soft long-sleeved top in a beige and blue patterned crinkly material, and a longish skirt, also crinkly, in a lovely soft teal blue. It was all very easy to wear, but also smart and up-to-date. She wanted sparkly earrings and silver shoes, and Ann got her those too. She had two parties, a family one at the old homestead on Sunday, and a rest home/friends/Anglican Women one at the rest home on Monday (her church, Holy Trinity, sent a huge bouquet of flowers), and she enjoyed it all very much. I was able to be there for both parties, and she knew me and was pleased to see me, so that was all good.

And then I swanned off to the Mount. No car, I didn't need one - that was the whole point. I'd booked a small apartment - Absolute Beachfront - on the ground floor, but they upgraded me to a big one on the third floor! Fantastic. The best thing was the beautifully shady balcony - I sat out there for breakfast, lunch and dinner (the takeaway Turkish round the corner, eaten out there with a sensible mini-bottle of red, was infinitely better and cheaper than the mediocre offerings at the cafe next door). But the first night I went out to dinner with Beth. We started and ended with bubbly on the balcony, and we had an Italian waiter who looked exactly like a faun.

Because it was a grey morning on Tuesday, I even walked round the Mount, very slowly - not because I couldn't walk faster, but because I wanted to make it last. It's one of the loveliest little coastal walks in the land. I thought about my husband, and the son I still have, and the son I haven't had since he was 18. I sat on the seats commemorating Ashley, who died at 19, and Chris, who died at 18, and thought about their parents too. Then on Wednesday I came home and picked up where I had left off. But it was good, and I might well do it again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On making the rich richer by making the poor poorer

Apparently all the rich have to do to have their taxes reduced is to assiduously devise ways to avoid paying. The Labour government introduced a modest increase in the top tax rate. Now the National government proposes to remove it - because so many wealthy people are managing to avoid it. This is like removing speed cameras because more people have radar detectors, or repealing the equal pay laws because so many employers are managing to flout them.

Any quaint notion that those who earn more should pay more tax is fast vanishing. Meanwhile the offsetting introduction of higher GST represents not only a further shift away from income tax to consumption tax; it also means that those who have no choice but to spend all or almost all of their low income will have their tax burden increased.

Here's what John Kenneth Galbraith said about cutting taxes on the rich (in The Culture of Contentment):

"The only effective design for diminishing the income inequality inherent in capitalism is the progressive income tax. Nothing in the age of contentment has contributed so strongly to income inequality as the reduction of taxes on the rich; nothing…so contributes to social tranquillity as some screams of anguish from the very affluent. That taxes should now be used to reduce the inequality is, however, clearly outside the realm of comfortable thought." (p.179)

CROSSOVER: My recent post at The Hand Mirror on last Sunday's SST Sunday Mag article based around the grievances of those without kids against those with has stirred up 23 comments, and counting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The final farewell to a great New Zealander

Today brought the final farewell to Sonja Davies. On a perfectly calm sea, in brilliant sunshine, her ashes were laid to rest at the deepest point of Wellington Harbour, and bread and roses were spread over the water.

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread but give us roses

Haere atu ki te po Sonja
Haere, haere, haere