OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Being a dick about Earth Hour

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Keith - please could your brilliant statistical analytical brain (or someone with similar skills on PA) help me clarify the tax cut issue. I suspect either we either seeing smoke and mirrors spin or statistically naive journalism (or reporters as confused as I am).

    TVNZ like much of the MSM is saying that 'most people' will get a tax cut this week. But you have to earn $40,000 or more to get a tax cut (or earn a bit less and be a single person with no dependents to get the $10 top up). But I thought the median annual income for NZ was about $36,000 which means less than half of all earners will get a tax cut. Let alone beneficiaries or non earners who aren't included in that table. Other media sources quote an average wage of $50,000 which must mean there are some people on really high salaries to make that much higher than the median (if they are using the same data).

    On the other hand I've heard that those earning between about $12,000 and $24,000 are apparently having their tax rates revised upwards so will actually have an increase.

    And what will happen to a person on say $70,000 who loses their job and goes onto the unemployment benefit of $195 a week during the tax year?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I see that the standard has had a go at some unpicking. And Matt McCarten on Eye to Eye apparently said that 90% of Maori won't get tax cuts. The minimum wage is going up but even those working full time on the minimum wage won't get into the tax cut range. And what about women, or people with disabilities?

    We also need some good gender/ethnicity and other data about the effect of the recession. I suspect that women are losing jobs faster than men and that any jobs created are targetted at men (eg National Library redundancies while a big construction project goes ahead).

    Sorry about hijacking this thread. Great discussion on Earth hour by the way.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Oh come on Hilary ! You're not seriously expecting the editors and reporters at TVNZ and the Herald to know the difference between a median and a mean, are you?

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I'm confused enough without bringing in mean as well. Isn't mean half way between two extremes and median half way through a given quantity? Or is that the other way around?

    Look, I attempted Stats 101 but was distracted by the poor manatees in the textbook examples who were getting attacked by the Florida jet boat propellers.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The minimum wage is going up but even those working full time on the minimum wage won't get into the tax cut range.

    It's worse than that, as Idiot/Savant, Te Standard and others pointed out at the time the package was announced, and since.

    Willie Jackson must be the worst moderator I've ever seen. Fortunately Laila Harre was there to counter Cameron Brewer's statement that the average wage was $45k so tax cuts would benefit "most" workers. That type of lazy or lying crap goes uncorrected far too often.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Mean = what you get when you add all a list numbers together, and divide by the length of the list. Sometimes called "average", but the problem is that "average" has this statistical meaning but also a vague colloquial meaning.

    Median = the middle item from a list of numbers.

    So, if we have five people with annual wages as follows:

    A: 30,000
    B: 32,000
    C: 32,500
    D: 33,000
    E: 100,000

    the mean is 45,500 and the median is 32,500.

    You can see how a minority of very high earners might skew the mean so that it is a considerable amount higher than the median. Often, the median is a better measure of what's "normal" than the mean.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    That should read:

    Median = the middle item from a sorted list of numbers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Thanks Stephen!

    As a non-stats -able person, this was very helpful (& Hilary - loved the manatee bit!)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    George has a nice clear explanation on The Standard thread that involves Bill Gates catching a bus.

    And, Islander, it is true about the manatees. I tried really hard to concentrate on standard deviations, margins of error, means, outliers and all those other menacing statistical threats, but all I can remember is the cruelty to manatees. (And by the way I've just found out the numbers of propeller attacks have started to increase in the last year after trending down for a while. Why can't they just use sails or oars?)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Hilary, people laugh at manatees but I think they're sveltely beautiful: while there are adopt-a-manatee programmes, and good educational sites in the USA. almost nowhere else where manatees (& dugongs) are found isbothered in the least about their coming extinction (including Australia.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Thanks for the manatee solidarity. I hope people start to appreciate and nurture them before it really is too late. My gravatar (which doesn't quite fit) is my little beacon of hope. In a roundabout way this brings this thread back to the original post topic.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    Sorry, almost forgot the joke.


    How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Doesn't matter, the lightbulb has got to want to change.

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Predictably, Danyl McLauchlan is being contrarian.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So, Keith, which is better for the enviroment?

    A. not getting a plastic bag from Borders? or
    B. getting a plastic bag from Borders, and paying them 10c which goes to their specified environmental cause?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    This just in about the Earth Hour-billboard-towing SUV. Then people wonder why I get cynical about events like Earth Hour. I'd have thought it was perfectly bloody self-explanatory!

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    This just in about the Earth Hour-billboard-towing SUV. Then people wonder why I get cynical about events like Earth Hour. I'd have thought it was perfectly bloody self-explanatory!

    In a way, it looks like I was proven right.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The Dompost today reports that Gerry Brownlee staffer Christopher Bishop (well-known young Nat around town) told his Facebook friends to keep the lights ON during Earth hour.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    cough...

    Yes well we do have distribution/storage problems, that requires digging minerals out of the ground, to solve. Its interesting that the big city lights used to burn whale oil, and that thats the origin of oil barrel unit symbol...

    One hour lights out, could have been measured in whales. But I have now got'n out of my conceptual depth...

    David Haywood, help?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    It's interesting that the big city lights used to burn whale oil

    ..and small torches were run on herrings or sprats?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Nah, 'bait: they have an infintesimal amount of fat, but waua! are there a lot of 'em!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    O, that was posted from Big O where there isnt any street lighting whatsoever, and we locals giggle as we listen to loopies thrashing around & screaming in the swamps...sometimes, we send out a friendly mudfish with a glow-bait, but this gesture is often mistaken...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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