Privacy, personal space and an economic precipice

Beneficiary advocates and groups working with the country's poorest said it was disappointing...
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Dear Uncle Norm,

Giving business another eight weeks of Covid wage subsidy is wasteful idiocy. This gigantic dump of public money merely postpones the inevitable. The strong firms will struggle through and survive, while the weak — especially in doomed sectors like tourism — will go to the wall. Finito. End of story.

Stringing along businesses which have no future simply delays their failure, and postpones staff showing up in our unemployment figures. Throwing money at them is pointless.

Derek Wise (by email)

Derek, old son, your "pointless" misses the point. Entirely. Businesses aren’t in dire straits because of weakness or incompetence. They face ruin because they were closed by Government edict. No group has paid a bloodier price for suppressing Covid-19 than our business owners. It would be indecent to now abandon them.

You also don’t understand the extra innovation, creativity, and determination that business owners unleash when threatened with losing everything. These people are a gutsy, go-getting breed. They are also the citizens we’ll rely on for a very large chunk of our economic recovery.

Why force staff into the uselessness of unemployment, when warehousing them in their jobs gives businesses more time to apply the ingenuity and tenacity needed for survival?

Businesses owners won’t simply take the wage subsidy. They’ll borrow, double down on their risk, and work tirelessly. Yes, its true many will fail, but it won’t be for want of trying — and for most, it won’t be their fault.

Dear Uncle Norm,

On "Freedom Day" (last Thursday, Stage Two) I called into a cafe to buy a celebratory takeaway. This was one slice of a naughty looking cheesecake on display. To complete the purchase I had to key in my personal contact details for Covid tracing. When I reached home I found an email welcoming me to something called GuestHQ, which noted I’d visited the bakery at precisely 11.33am.

This crowd picked up my details when I signed in for my cake. I went to remove my name from their list, but the GuestHQ email didn’t provide any "opt-out" option I could see.

Who the hell is GuestHQ, and how come I buy a small treat, and they suddenly know all about me?

Freda (Concerned)

GuestHQ has blanketed the hospitality industry with offers to assist their compulsory Covid-19 contact tracing. At a price, of course: $99 per month. They are owned by an outfit called Loaded, whose website offers neither address nor phone number.

Loaded’s website announces its objective is "to help your business make more money". GuestHQ has a confusing privacy policy which tells those it has signed up (many unwittingly) that when the Government’s

Covid-19 response ends, all data will be removed. The fine print also states your info can be used to market to you and collect money you owe — and can be shared with any business that "supports" their services.

The Government’s contact tracking needs have opened the doors to a data gathering free-for-all. The privacy issues are huge.

Dear Uncle Norm,

The social distancing rules have become gibberish. We may mourn at funerals in groups of 10, no make that 50. Inter-city bus operators can restart services — providing they agree to go broke with impossible seating rules. Ditto cinemas and cafes.

All this red tape when our chances of catching Covid in the South are now almost the same as winning the lottery. It’s officialdom gone crazy. The mandarins of Wellington will soon dictate the Covid safe way of putting on your underpants.

Jeremy Quince, Caversham

I suspect Joseph Heller, who wrote Catch 22, has scored a job writing the Covid-19 distancing rules. (No, hang on, Heller’s dead). Anyway, you may recall that a Catch 22 character — Lieutenant Scheisskopf — devised a cunning scheme for ensuring soldiers on parade were spaced at the correct distances. They were to be bolted to a network of carefully measured spacing rods. Food for mandarin thought.

Dear Uncle Norm,

Mr Shane Ace, a Dunedin chap, recently wrote to the ODT saying he was boggled by the poor footpath etiquette of city pedestrians (I hesitate to call them "street walkers"). I too find that Southerners neither shuffle out of my way, nor politely touch their caps, when I take my constitutional down George St. What can be done about these fellows? And, I regret, ladies too.

Peregrine Potter, Maori Hill

I suspect your footpath lurkers were George St shopkeepers discussing changes the Dunedin City Council seems intent on forcing on them — even as they deal with the Covid-19 crisis. It is rumoured the council will solve crowding by issuing the left-handed stickers which allow them George St access on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Right-handers will enjoy the rest of the week.

 - John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer.



I concur with Shane Ace. I have experienced the same oik disrespect proceeding down Burlington.






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