One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5
A holiday around some of the world
by Roger Childs
Good Friday has tremendous significance for the minority who are devout Christians, but for the vast majority it is just another holiday added on to the Easter weekend. It is a public holiday in 29 countries, but in only 13 states in America where there is a much higher proportion of church-going Christians than in New Zealand.
Today there is no paper and the vast majority of shops are shut because of the Shop Trading Hours Act. Businesses, with some exceptions like service stations, may risk prosecution if they open on Good Friday, but there are no such restrictions on Queens Birthday, Labour Day or Waitangi Day.
Is it time to rethink what we do in New Zealand?
A moveable feast
Good Friday is remembered by Christians as the time when Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary — it is the most solemn day in the church calendar.
But as we all know, there is a different date every year for Easter and of course Good Friday. Way back in 325 AD the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the northern hemisphere’s Spring equinox.
We’ve recently had the equinox when the overhead sun on its way north, was directly above the equator, and the full moon is in the sky. Easter is nigh.
A day of great religious and artistic significance
When I was young, Good Friday was the climax of holy week and was commemorated by all Christian faiths.
Most Anglican parishes featured a three hour service from 12.00 – 3.00 pm consisting of a series of short sermons on the passion of Christ, hymns, readings and prayers. Worshippers were free to come and go during the singing of the hymns.
Some of those hymns sung on Good Friday and at other times, are among the most poignant in the rich heritage of sacred music.
~ O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded
~ When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
~ Rock Of Ages
~ Abide With Me
Not surprisingly, the passion of Christ has been a popular subject for artists and sculptors, often patronised by religious leaders, such as popes, across the ages. In the pantheon of art iconography, the crucifixion is second only to the Madonna and child as a religious subject.
It has been rendered by scores of artists from Giotto di Bondone to Salvador Dali in an amazing range of styles.
Athiests, agnostics and many historians question whether the crucifixion actually happened, as the historical record is vague and the biblical gospels that record it were written decades after the “event”.
However, for devout Christians it has huge significance, but should it be a public holiday when there are some limitations affecting everyone?
Useful lessons from the Americans?
It’s coming to America first, the cradle of the best and of the worst. Leonard Cohen.
What is done in the United States has had a huge impact on culture and practice around the world. To what extent this is a positive is highly debatable, however sometimes the Americans set good examples.
Individual states can have their own public holidays and in some places they remember Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday and that of Susan B. Anthony, the American women’s suffrage pioneer.
The public holidays observed nation-wide are mainly based around historical events:
- Columbus Day
- Independence Day
- George Washington’s Birthday
- Martin Luther King Day.
New Zealand holidays: some new ones?
Should the strongly held opinions of a minority, determine what happens on Good Friday for the vast majority, as regards having a morning paper to read and access to the supermarket?
Many would argue that shop owners and staff deserve a break. However wouldn’t Labour Day, which commemorates the adoption of the 40 hour working week in New Zealand, be more appropriate?
Perhaps in New Zealand we could have a Kate Sheppard Day on 19 September to commemorate the day in 1893 when women were finally given the vote.
What about an Edmund Hillary Day on 20 July to remember one of the greatest New Zealand heroes of all time?
There are plenty of other possibilities, however the time may well have come to remove Good Friday from the list of public holidays, and give as many workers as possible a break on Labour Day.
by Roger Childs
The problem we have is New Zealanders seem not to want an inheritance tax or a wealth tax or a land tax or a capital gains tax, but they still want to complain about growing inequalities of wealth. —Michael Cullen
Traditionally in New Zealand politics, Liberal and Labour governments have made most of the reforms which we take for granted today, and then the conservative parties coming into power have accepted the changes and then ruled in the interests of the farmers, businesses and the banks.
A bold claim? Just check the history of implementing reforms – loans to farmers, breaking up big estates, votes for women, industrial conciliation and arbitration, old age and widows pensions, state houses, social security, Kiwisaver, Kiwibank, the super fund, Working for Families – the list goes on.
Unfortunately, with only three years between elections, political pragmatism can get in the way of necessary changes. The decision on the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is a case in point. The prime minister says she is personally in favour, but obviously Labour had to have had New Zealand First support. The Greens are all in favour, but Winston once again has queered the pitch.
Most countries in the world have a CGT, including the US, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Canada. What’s more, many of these nations have conservative governments who are not in a hurry to abolish such taxes. The New Zealand Tax Working Group was unanimous in recommending that we get in line with our allies, and levy the “unearned increment” which the wealthier interests in our society are currently creaming. The average tax in the OECD is 18.4%, so it’s not as if these earnings would be plundered if New Zealand joined the majority of nations.
Unfortunately, there has been plenty of mischief made and lies told as the CGT issue has been debated in recent times. Simon Bridges talked about an attack on our way of life and Business New Zealand made the ludicrous claim that a New Zealand CGT would cost the country 5 billion dollars over five years in compliance costs!
In the end it has come down to Winston not playing ball, as too many of his grey supporters would have been faced with an extra levy on their comfortable assets. Would a decision in favour have been political suicide for Labour? Not necessarily, as there would have been tax gains for most people if the Working Party’s other proposals had been adopted. Overall there would have a more even distribution of wealth and a closing of the income gap between the financial elites and lesser mortals.
Unfortunately, Jacinda Ardern had made a “not on my watch” statement about a CGT, similar to John Key’s declaration about not raising the age of entitlement for national superannuation. That is a pity, because the next election could see the New Zealand First one man band going down the tubes and a coalition of Labour and Greens, favourable to CGT, winning the contest.
by Geoffrey Churchman
About 30 years ago a Wellington stockbroker told me in regard to tax paid by corporations, “You can’t go by any published statement; the only way to find out if they pay any tax is to ask them.” About the same time an accountant said that it was common for them to produce three sets of accounts: one for the Inland Revenue Department, one for the Shareholders and the real ones, presumably for the directors.
It’s likely to still be the same and the message is that if big corporates can find ways to avoid paying tax, they will. The same applies to the super-rich, and it’s a major factor in how they became rich. We know that multi-nationals operating in NZ pay (virtually) no profits tax.
This leaves ordinary people shouldering the total taxation burden. One of the comments on Mainstream Media following the decision to abandon CGT is that the government will now be without the $3.4 Billion that CGT would have bought in.
But apart from being a highly speculative figure, it will have been an added impost on working people. And what does the government do with all the tax it collects? Like the KCDC, the central government spends it on a mix of things that they should be doing; and on profligate waste. And as is needed with the KCDC, an objective should be to eliminate the latter. There are several government departments that could be slimmed down or just abolished and the staff reassigned to where they are needed.
At the same time, the tax avoidance loopholes for big corporations need to be closed.
As Roger says, CGT is a feature in most First World countries tax systems including the USA, but there the rates are low. For most people in America the rate is 15% — you can read how it works here.
One of the big problems with the Cullen scheme was that if shares or property were sold at a loss, those losses could only be deducted against profits from other shares or property they sold that year – not against other types of income such as their wages. In the USA for individuals, a net loss can be claimed as a tax deduction against ordinary income, up to $3,000 per year ($1,500 in the case of a married individual filing separately). Any remaining net loss can be carried over and applied against gains in future years.
But it’s academic now. The abandonment isn’t too much of a surprise as people simply do not like new taxes being applied to things that haven’t been taxed hitherto — as Jenny Rowan and Ross Church found out in Kapiti. And they do not like tax/rates increases either.
Another point to be made is we are not totally free of capital gains taxes — if you regularly buy and sell things you are going to treated by the IRD as running a business and profits are subject to tax.
Will the abandonment now improve Jacinda’s re-election prospects? Possibly.
A major new study from Danish biologists, impressive both in scale and duration, shows that green spaces are great for kids’ mental health.
The council has announced this upgrade (expansion?) intention and is seeking opinions from locals. As can be seen in these pics taken yesterday, it is a reserve that has a lot of open area as well as the ponds. It isn’t close to houses, but is only a few minutes drive from the northern beach area. While what is there at present may be enough for the number of visitors, it may also be the case that if there is more equipment, then more people will go there
The page on the council website.