marsden_online: (skull)
... and right now I am my own worst brick wall. I just ... agghhh. It's so frustrating :( I don't know what the problem /is/! Where is the /clue/, where is the /key/? There is nothing obviously wrong with me.

There are so many things I want, need to get done; little things mostly; but I seem to have /run out of can/ even to get out of bed in the /morning/. And important things in my life are not happening because of it.

* subject line reference


End of the day addendum; managed to leave the house, feeling at run ove by a steamroller level. By tehe time I got to work (about 1:30pm) I was only feeling run over by a truck. I then managed to comfortably do 6ish hours work (staying late) before coming home and still being alert enough to catch up on some online reading. Just WTF self?
marsden_online: (Sisters)
The same thing we do every day, fight the ennui and despair with distractions* until we are past exhaustion."
"But what if we are past exhaustion** to start with brain?"
"Then we're fucked, and not in the good way***."
ya-snip )
marsden_online: (Rage)
This year was very mixed for me. I think I probably broke-even with Saturday compensating for the disappointments of both Saturday and Monday, but it is currently the end of Monday and I am exhausted and grumpy.
snip )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Giving is a major part of my life. Probably the greater part of it is invisible; charities I regularly support, flybys on givealittle and so forth but to be honest I find these less satisfying than what I can do directly for those around me. Making someone's life immediately better even if only for a short time kicks off one of the few emotional highs remaining to me. You can argue about whether than makes it altruistic giving or not elsewhere, I don't care. What is important to me is that there is less stress in a persons' life at frankly, little substantial cost to me.
- pad your groceries? People who have full stomachs are happier, healthier and think better.
- top up your bus card? Represents pocket change to me, to you might represent the freedom to leave the house and get to where you want/need to be when you want/need to be.
- covered an unexpected shortfall? Luck comes in good and bad, I have plenty of the former so please let me share it with you.

Life does not treat everyone equally, but it is within our power as people to redress the balance. Especially those of us to whom it has been more than fair; and I think compassion demands that we do so. Some people prefer to argue from a position of self interest - make sure other have (just) enough and they won't be motivated to try and take what you have to redress the balance. That's better than building fortresses ("gated communities") and hiring guards to keep the mob from the door I suppose.

I can understand how a person who has had to struggle, work and fight their whole life to get above the line and stay there might not be able to let go of that mindset, no matter how much success they achieve it may be that in their own mind they will always be poor and one unexpected bill away from disaster. But I also know that there are many who do not fall into that trap and having made their way to a comfortable position do a great deal to try and help others do the same. That makes much more sense to me - having been there how would not want to get other people out of the situation once you have means?

I am not one of of these; the metaphorical spoon in my mouth may not have been silver but it is less through my own efforts that I am where I am today than the gifts afforded from from my parents' hard labours. And so I can understand how, up to a certain age, a person can be raised simply not cognizant of the harsh realities of life for many. In the modern world my sympathy for that mindset runs out a year or two after they have reached university and should have had the opportunity to start taking a critical look at the world around them.

As always grateful that again, life has been more than fair to me and my sympathy for the struggles of others is born of intellect and a sense of fairness than hard personal experience.

So we come back to the position where I have- more than enough and so I endeavour to share my good fortune. I give this less than I would like; for two reasons
- Rationally I do need to keep putting some aside for my own future. How much is arguable, but I am not at the position where I can absolutely soak a large expense (such as the one about to be incurred for drain replacement) just yet, and I have no certainty that NZ's welfare state will be in a condition to look after me in my old age.
- it occupies not just the physical resources but also time and energy.

On this latter we have as a society theoretically harnessed the specialisation of labour to handle this. We pay takes to a central organisation (government) and one of the things they are supposed to do with them is make sure that if life treats us poorly we are looked after to a not-uncomfortable standard. In the meantime our money is (supposed to be) used to look after those who life is currently treating poorly. This should free us from the greater part of a need to worry about the circumstances of our families, friends, acquaintances / strangers.

Our current government is rejecting that part of it's duties (granted it is not the first to do so). Instead of going directly - in cash or in kind - to people who need food and shelter significant amounts of "our" money are shown to be being spent propping up companies that by National's own market ethos should probably be allowed to fail / take their business elsewhere, or paid in bribes to already wealthy individuals in countries where corruption is blatant, or siphoned off as indirect subsidies to private accommodation providers and old-boys-network businesspeople who are already "above the line".

One result of this is that I - multiplied by who-knows-how-many-others - have to spend more of my time and energy personally directing resource to the people I can see in need, and relying on the voids which are charities to be doing the right thing just to help regular people when they should be able to focus on those who positions are truly dire. And in some ways that /waste/ pisses me off just as much as seeing people around me living in poverty and the mis-appropriation of public money.

I am one person of good but still moderate means. I cannot do enough to even scrape the surface. I can feed a few people but I cannot house them. Organisations which have been set up explicitly to address the issues and channel the contributions of people like myself are barely scraping the surface. Central government is actively and deliberately following policies guaranteed to make the situation worse while benefiting those who already have more than enough.

My local council is one of the largest providers of social housing in the country (an operation which is currently being strong-armed to privatisation by central government). I occasionally encounter people who state vehemently how they are against their rates being used for such a purpose. I have no time for this attitude. Homelessness and poverty have both local and regional aspects and I absolutely expect our elected representatives at all levels to work together at the task of redirecting a sufficient portion of our taxes to those in need (rates being pretty much the closest we have in NZ to a formal tax on land even if they are not particularly responsive to capital gains).

Taking care of those who do not have the means to take care of themselves I consider the first duty of a supposedly democratic government. All else follows from or supports that. In doing so, for those of a more right-wing bent, people are freed to be more productive and contribute their best to society and the future rather than burning our all - and in the case of those who turn to crime, others all as well - just to survive.

[deep calming breaths]

The point I was getting around to is actually about the visibility of giving. This morning I posted quickly in my FB and Tumblr

When we talk about “give and take” why is the implication always that the giving and the taking are between the same two entities?

If I am in a position to give freely what someone needs why is it expected that I am expecting something in return? If you are in want of something why should it have to come from someone that already owes you or that you are then expected to owe?

Much better that we all give what we can when we see a need, and try to make out own desires visible without guilt or suspicion for others seeking to fulfil them - or be it necessarily with the the acceptance that there may not be anyone who feels they are in a position to do so.

I know a lot of people above and below the line, and plenty of those have moved from one side to the other and sometimes multiple times over the years. I am fairly public about much of the personal giving I do, not because I desire the plaudits (although they are nice) but in an endeavour to set an example to others above the line who may meander across my trail. To make giving freely visible and accepted, because I alone cannot make a lasting difference.

Related reading: that came through my Facebook feed while I was typing this up: How we got Here


Mar. 16th, 2015 09:50 pm
marsden_online: (Sisters)
I am trying to take this week easy, not because of any lack of things to do but because my emotional energy levels have reached critically low levels. To the point where last evening I found myself lying in bed enraged and repeatedly rehearsing responses to a completely hypothetical situation generated by my own brain.

I had not even noticed that was a thing which had /stopped/ happening as I got "better".

crash )

In unrelated positive news, installers will becoming around tomorrow morning to measure up my house for solar panels.
marsden_online: (Sisters)
The past couple of weeks have been absolutely flat out with beginning-of-University-year events and other occasions, trying to complete a major project at work, and sundry disappointments. I have really been feeling very low throughout and only this week have I managed to overcome the spoon-and-time-debt enough to almost catch up house-and-garden chores. At the moment I don't actually have any unscheduled time until Saturday at the earliest.
disappointments )
marsden_online: (Sisters)
I have been fighting off a series of attacks by self doubt recently, centred around work and (lack of) relationship as usual. Today has been particularly bad. Dammit I did not need an existential crisis right now.

work )
other )
marsden_online: (Sisters)
I clearly overdid things this past week or so. Let me count the ways ...
- keeping my work hours up
- trying to organise/facilitate multiple events at the Hall, including a relatively major production at the Hall
- taking an evening out to attend a movie
- cumulating in hosting my yearly Friday the 13th Gothic Vampire party including dressing the house up and not getting to bed until nearly 24 hours awake

... so here I am holding my pillow tight (poor substitute) and fretting over things I don't have the resources to change (something I hadn't even realised I had stopped doing).

Work has been good, if a bit of a struggle because of lack of energy to get started and having to stop mid-flow to go and deal with Hall matters. Beyond that,Let me dump a whole heap of negativity ...
cut my heart out )
marsden_online: (Rage)
So some of you might know we've had two major tagging attacks on the hall in the past week.
Today I was in there to supervise a student film project when one of the students runs up to me to tell me there were people in the building upstairs. (They had stopped to ask about a way in.)
When we found them (they hid where I went through the area they were in and I wasn't through :( but fortunately I had stationed Mel to watch the foyer) they first claimed to be with the crew then legged it, getting out the back and evading us long enough to reach the driveway, scoot across the road and get on a bus heading towards the mall. One of them gave me the fingers as it went past.
Mel noticed and mentioned later that one of them had a cap with "Duck" on it the same as the most recent lot of graffiti.
I have to be calm for an online meeting right now and I am still shaking with anger.
marsden_online: (write)
This substantial piece exploring ideas around a universal income ("Citizens Dividend") has been sitting in my re-read list for about 3 months.

It repeatedly stresses the importance of examining social welfare payments together with tax as two sides of the same coin. There is a certain amount of mathematical analysis, although I find issue with one of the early assumptions.
Above 70,000 per year the tax rate becomes 33%. If this applied to the earnings below $70,000 they would pay $23,100 tax on a 70,000 income instead of $14,020. Which is $9080 greater than they currently pay.
In other words at present Rankine points out that that we effectively tax those at or over $70,000 at 33 cents on every dollar of their income but we give back to them $9080. Why do we not do the same for everyone? That is, tax at 33cents on every dollar earned but give back $9080 per annum. If everyone did earn over $70,000 that would be exactly what we would be doing. So why do we not give the same benefit to all those who earn less than $70,000? Clearly those earning less than $70,000 per year would be better off than at present so it would cost the Government more than at present.

A moments contemplation shows that by the same logic we are taxing everyone at 33 cents on the dollar and merely giving back a lesser amount to those who earn under $70,000.

Later on I disagree (enough to want to mention it) with some of the suggested benefits of an asset tax (examined in the article as a means of making up a shortfall between income tax and the CD).
Some of the virtues of such a tax are:
-It is paid by those who can afford to pay – even if they have to borrow in some way against their assets.
-It will catch overseas owners who have no income in NZ.
-It will encourage the use of capital in productive enterprises rather than ostentatious expenditure on boats, houses, cars and the like.
-the tax base will be greatly broadened.
-more productive use of existing resources will be encouraged – e.g. working shifts in a factory rather than incurring additional expense to increase plant and buildings.
-An asset tax is in line with the overall objective to reduce the disparity in wealth.

- It is paid by those who can afford to pay – even if they have to borrow in some way against their assets.
Or the cash-poor are going to get trapped in a tax-debt situation, the interest effectively increasing their marginal tax rate at no gain to society. Is this their punishment for not being savvy enough to make profitable use of their asset, or not being willing to cash up the family home, or suffering some misfortune which consumes their reserves?

- It will encourage the use of capital in productive enterprises rather than ostentatious expenditure on boats, houses, cars and the like.
I think certain of the author's prejudices are showing. I also not that under the asset tax he[?] suggests there is a social benefit to people purchasing ostentatious assets - as this will result in ongoing tax revenue.

- more productive use of existing resources will be encouraged – e.g. working shifts in a factory rather than incurring additional expense to increase plant and buildings.
The suggestion that people should "just work more" always gets my heckles up. As does treating people as nothing more than labour-units. There are probably people out there who enjoy shift-work - but I don't think I know any who would claim they couldn't make better use of their time wouldn't prefer a more reliable schedule.

One of the comments raises my ire for a similar reason
Cameron W Browne
The only catch that comes to mind is the disincentive to work harder and earn more – if your lifestyle is paid for at $x, why would you want to be more productive?

Why indeed. Hai - I earn enough to pay for my comfortable lifestyle and actually don't really feel the need to be more productive just for the sake of money. But I do put time and energy into other things which could be considered to have a social benefit. Is that not productive enough for you?

The bigger issue - why do so many people seem to feel that "being productive", "working harder" and "earning more" are the highest things to which a person or society can aspire?

[end rant]

Excuse me, I think I need to eat something.
marsden_online: (Rage)
vent )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
When Global PC redirects me to Dragon PC for a simple USB to PS/2 converter (I already checked Dick Smith, they only had them running in the other direction).

Dragon didn't have one (without a mouse) either, but did have a dual PS/2 to USB converter which should equally well solve the problem.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Today was fairly busy. Grocery shopping this morning, followed by a green-bin worth of weeding & digging over the revealed section of the vege garden, mowing lawns, tidying the woodshed (first pass anyway), knocked my RSS backlog back down to size.
Read a book (read another one last night and another the night before as it happens, practically unheard of). Watched some TV. Washed the dishes.

It's all been quite relaxing, except )
marsden_online: (write)
I've recently paid a significant amount of money on a home renovation. My mental model for where that money goes is pretty simple - I pay someone, they pay income tax.

It's missing several steps from the reality.

[edit] Virtual chocolate fish to [ profile] exiledinpn for immediately pointing out the glaring flaw in my new mental model. Feel free to ignore everything except the end of the post.[/edit]
no longer particularly germane )
This post has been germinating for a little while, since a brief furor last month about not paying cash prices to tradesmen. I/S said then
That money you save by aiding and abetting a tradeperson's tax fraud? That's money that would normally go to schools, hospitals, and public services. You might as well be going down there and smashing some windows yourself.

Cynically I say that's money which is just as likely to be going into some govt slush fund, in the same way as you can't say "we're/they're borrowing to fund x y or z". But my real gripe is about transparency.

- If the government wants/needs me to pay for schools, hospitals, public services
- and and the prevailing model is to tax income (which conceptually it is in NZ at present)
- then they should tax me directly with an appropriate rate not by stealth through the people with whom I do business.

That way we the public get to feel honestly how much we are paying for, and perhaps take a keener interest in just what these people we elected are actually doing with our money.
marsden_online: (Rage)
I am attempting to top up my T-Stick using your online service. It says quite clearly at "Top up your XT Prepaid Mobile or T-Stick online" (with fuel-gauge graphic adjacent) and "Top Up Now" on the button below

Clicking the button takes me to a page where i can enter my credit card details - so far so good. However completing this page does not allow me to top up my T-Stick online. Instead the instructions tell me to call my mobile phone and follow the top-up procedure using the displayed voucher number.

Of course this will add the credit to my mobile phone, not to the T-Stick! The specific wording of the instructions implies that there is an option for selecting a different phone number somewhere in the menus but I have been unable to find it. Instead I had to press "3" for PROBLEMS (which is almost funny) and your help-desk was able to apply the voucher number - and tell me this was the -usual- process for "topping up online".

However 3 escalations later they were still -unable- to tell me
a) why the website - and their scripts - insist that it is possible to "Top Up Online" when it is not.
b) who was responsible for this situation
c) who is going to be responsible for fixing this situation

And by fixing this situation I do not mean changing the website to make it explicit that you can not in fact top up online. I mean actually adding the functionality that will let me and all your other T-Stick and similar users add credit to our devices directly from your website. We should not have to have access to a -phone- to top up our -mobile internet-. We should not have to -spend time waiting on the phone- until we reach the front of the queue for your call center!

(For all I know the functionality is already there, and just the links are wrong. How easy would that be to fix?)

Yes there are other mobile internet providers in NZ. I reluctantly chose Telecom because on the rare occasions I need mobile broadband you have the best coverage. I'm sorry the rest of your support structure does not match up.

Quite appropriately, the stereo is playing the following from the CrüxShadows right now
once we have a promise
twice we have a curse
three times is impossible
and four times even worse
once we have an accident
twice we have a fault
three times is delinquent
and four times is the fall
marsden_online: (skull)
There is a significant difference in apparent meaning between

$100 Save *$299*


Save $100 *$299*



May. 20th, 2011 12:26 pm
marsden_online: (skull)
There was an EQC branded vehicle sitting out front for some time with the driver shuffling paper, but it's driven off.

I've just spent some time on the phone to AMI not-quite-abusing the poor fellow for the very confusing letter they just sent which could be read as they needed to hear from me about my EQC claims but was actually to tell me they didn't. FAIL.

Unable to get hold of the plumber - I really need this building consent issue sorted out, and they're not getting back to me.
marsden_online: (write)
My generation is in our 30's now. There are people younger than us in Parliament. The sort of country we live in is no. longer. somebody. else's. problem.

I know people who came to this realisation in their 20's. Just call me a late developer :(
marsden_online: (skull)
The Business Roundtable is urging Christchurch City Council to sell its shareholdings in commercial businesses after the earthquake that devastated the central city.

"Reducing its shareholding in its port, airport and electricity companies would free up cash for repairs to local infrastructure without imposing new burdens on ratepayers," the roundtable said.

Actually I consider things like the electricity network, airport and port to be part of the infrastructure, thankyouverymuch.

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