1. New Zealand may pull out of the Kyoto Treaty. Although the country is not a major polluter, it would incur high costs to meet the specified standards. Furthermore it misestimated how much adjustment would be required, and now faces an unexpectedly large bill of compliance.
2. The National Party candidate, Donald Brash, is more or less a libertarian. The election for Prime Minister will be held September 17. Brash has been falling behind in the polls because he leaves open the possibility of sending New Zealand troops to Iraq. I predict he will lose.
3. New Zealand is making extensive preparations for avian flu. A country of four million people is stockpiling at least 800,000 doses of Tamiflu.
4. New Zealand economists — including the libertarians — usually regard the Bush Social Security plan as a disaster in the making. They favor, as do I, separating out the welfare and "forced savings" components of any reform. My thinking on this issue had been influenced by the time I spent here in the early 1990s.
5. "Pox parties" are becoming increasingly popular. Parents take their kids to parties to expose them to measles, chicken pox, etc., to build up their immunity and to avoid the need for supposedly dangerous vaccines. NB: This practice is not recommended.