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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Tax, plastic, assassinations

6 August 2018

Yes, it's another pot pouri of topics rather than a common theme today.

Firstly, I see that Amazon has (again) simply stated that if NZ wants it to act as an unpaid tax collector for GST then it will simply stop accepting orders from Godzone.

I do believe I predicted this outcome quite some time ago.

This would put NZ consumers at a huge disadvantage when compared to the rest of the world. We'd be forced to use less well-known online retailers or (shudder) be thrown head-first into the clutches of the NZ retailers whose markup tends to result in massively higher prices and a significantly reduced range of choices.

And I thought the government was supposed to be working *for* the people?

If the government goes ahead with the ludicrous "Amazon Tax" in light of this threat then it is clear that the NZ retail lobby is spending some serious money on feathering the nests of our politicians behind the scenes.

What's worse, if NZ and Australia were to succeed in forcing online retailers in other countries to comply (and to my surprise I discovered that there are some reciprocal laws that might bring legal force to bear on such demands even outside our own borders), the ultimate outcome would be a disaster for e-tailers around the globe.

What am I talking about?

Well if etailers in the USA, UK, Canada and other countries end up being forced to act as unpaid GST collectors for our governments, you can bet your bottom dollar that the governments of other countries will jump on the "Amazon Tax" bandwagon and implement similar schemes and demands.

Pity the poor Kiwi online retailer therefore who gets orders from outside NZ. They may well find themselves burdened with collecting sales-tax for a dozen or more other countries then jumping through complex hoops and accounting procedures in order to file returns and make payments to the governments of those countries.

This would surely throw a huge spanner in the works of international retail trade -- and I thought NZ was a proponent of *free trade*?

Clowns at the controls again!

Now to the challenging issue of recycling certain types of plastics.

The local council here has (as have many other councils) advised people not to put anything but types 1 & 2 (PET and HDPE) into the recycling bins. All other plastic is to be simply put in with the household refuse and be tossed into the land-fill.

What the hell?

Here's an idea for the cloth-heads flipping the switches on this one...

Set aside a completely separate landfill area solely for the plastics which are presently deemed not recyclable. Bail these plastics and store them neatly underground in clearly designated and marked areas.

Why?

Well because this plastic comes from oil and the one thing we know for sure is that within a decade or two, oil is going to become too expensive to pull from the ground and use as a raw material for plastic manufacture. At that time, all that "waste" plastic will surge in value -- to the point where it is economical (indeed *essential*) to recycle it.

If we stockpile that plastic waste now then future generations will benefit from the fact that it will become far more valuable in the face of dwindling oil production.

How about we start thinking further ahead than the end of next week eh?

And finally, I see the sorry excuse we have for "news media" has once again jumped on the "let's vilify drones" bandwagon and published headlines suggesting that the President of Venezuela was almost assassinated by drones carrying high explosives.

Sigh!

I've had countless emails overnight from people in the hobby who fear that this will be the final nail in the coffin of recreational drone and model aircraft flying.

After all, it was in the news so it must be true... right?

Well this report from The Telegraph seems to cast some doubt on whether drones were used at all. It clearly states:

"However, firefighters at the scene disputed the government's account. Three officers told the Associated Press that the actual cause was a gas tank exploding inside an apartment."

Hmmm... have we been fed another like of BS about drones?

Indeed, pictures seem to show where smoke was obviously billowing from a window in a nearby building -- but with no sign of the kind of damage you'd expect if a bomb had exploded outside that window.

I think it's about time we instigated a new element in the curriculum of our schools. We should be teaching "healthy skepticism" so as to show kids that you can't believe everything you read or see in the media. People need to be reminded that the primary role of our newspapers, radio and TV is to make money, not to deliver researched, informed news.

And that's it for another Monday.

What a crazy world we're living in.

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