How would you describe New Zealand if you have lived here for some time?
New Zealand, the land of my birth and my home, is a wonderful country, but why do we have third world problems here. Why are our crime statistics and suicide rates so high?
Here is a quick essay on how I see it. I hope other Kiwi’s living here or abroad will comment on how they see things.
What will happen if we do have a Labour/Green coalition after the next election this December?
Is it really important, as I heard on the news today (13/3/2014) that parents should be discouraged from driving their children to school? This was from the Green co-leader, the aim being to decrease congestion on the roads and presumably to aid in preserving the planet.
I know why my daughter was always driven to school. Could it have been a string of terrible criminal offences on children early in those years that affected parents confidence in their children’s safety?
Our economy on paper looks in reasonable shapehttp://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/government-debt-to-gdpwith a debt gdp ratio of 35.9% last year which I believe is better than the US right now which I understand is about 73%.
However, putting this in context, NZ is naturally a very wealthy country with a fertile soil, benign climate, abundant natural resources and an educated skilled populace. We should be the most wealthy country in the world. However poverty statistics are basically 3rd world with, for example, 20% of children in poverty according to the OECD.http://www.3news.co.nz/OECD-One-in-five-Kiwi-kids-lives-in-poverty/tabid/423/articleID/250874/Default.aspx .
Housing is expensive to purchase-build-rent mainly because of socialist national and local government policies on land zoning and minimum standards for new housing. I needn’t talk about the cost of housing too much as its in the media just about every day. And it is true, it is very difficult to make that jump from renting to home ownership nowadays.
Gerry Brownlee once wrote to me explaining that his aim as Minister of Housing was to improve the housing stock in New Zealand. Well having myself lived in a few un-insulated homes in Christchurch, made even less tenable by the banning of wood or coal burning open fires and and coal ranges,(where there is so much inexpensive spare heat, that one is always trying to get rid of it), he does have a point. However the problem is in his method. Specifying continually higher specs for new homes, (and I know a lot about that), and having to only use electricity, (which is likely to fail when you need it most like it did last week), or approved heaters with special fuels is simply not only putting the price of purchasing a home out of reach for many, but is causing people to freeze through the winter because the cost of heating, combined with the continually rising rents, is too high.
The truth is, that Mr Brownlee’s policy can only lead to increasing homelessness for people at the bottom of the ladder. A good housing stock can only be attained by allowing people to become more wealthy and letting them build adequate houses themselves. How can Mr Brownlee allow people to become more wealthy? Well fewer and much less tax of course. As I mention below, according to Friedman, according to my training and very likely according to Reserve Bank and Treasury advice to the government, substantial tax reduction not only will cause the employed to get more wealthy, the unemployed will get substantially fewer as well and even those who remain on the benefit will pay less tax. (Benefits are taxed in New Zealand).
I remember Helen Clark, (a previous Labour Prime Minister), during a televised debate before an election, very clearly denigrating advice from the government advisers, calling it bumpkin or hogwash or some such name. (One must remember that a degree in Political Science will only help you get elected, there is precious little studied in that faculty that will help you actually run a country in a way that benefits its citizens).
The government here obviously then is overly large with intrusion into almost every walk of private life and effectively most people receive some relief from the taxpayer in some form or another. In my case, like many, I also have private health insurance because the government system is good on A&E but poor on routine non emergency but essential treatment. So for instance if you need a hip operation, you will most likely need to wait until it is an emergency.
I have observed personally on a number of occasions that our government and its agencies are prepared to exceed their statutory powers thus even the rule of law is being bent. (“Personally” means I had a number of disputes with public servants who could not follow their own statutes or sat in on court cases where the government or officials were involved.)
Taxes are correspondingly high and of course – for instance – there is no rebate for having your own health insurance or using private schools.
What is most concerning is our continual slide to the political left. Even our ‘conservative’ government at present uses minimum wages, ETS and refuses to tackle the key causes of the over expensive housing such as removing city zoning and green type resource planning bureaucracy etc.
The power of local governments has also been increased under the previous labour government, making building consent a drawn out expensive nightmare. A real conservative government would have reversed this ASAP but not our ‘conservative’ government
Agenda 21 is of course rife in our legislation, local government and education. (I take it you have read my blog on this.)
Ironically, our current PM was in my university economics class, but he and his party appear to be definitely chasing the vote rather than anything else.
There is therefore little to stop UN Agenda 21 objectives in NZ. If you wonder what I am talking about here, I thoroughly recommend that you get a copy of Ian Wishart’s book ‘Totalitaria” and have a good read. Of course you could also read the previous posts in this blog and also understand what I am on about.
In my experience, even educated people here believe that government can print money at will and are ignorant that it is really only their own money/resources. Worse still, they do not realise that at best, only a small portion will ever be spent on their account.
It is important that when you read of a government project, such as the new Stadium intended for the CBD of Christchurch, (Yup its in the plan with a price tag of about NZ$1 Billion as I recall), try to remember who is actually paying for it.
For the information of all the readers, the government, although it is physically simple to do, cannot print or create money without causing inflation and is actually constrained in this by the Reserve Bank Act. In fact, the Government has no money to spend except what it collects from us or what it has salted away in “public assets” (using our money of course) into enities such as Energy companies and the like. Consequently, the new stadium in Christchurch, (and this is simply a prominent example), being unlikely in the extreme to be able to pay for itself in hireage and gate receipts, will simply be paid for by you and me out of our taxes in perpetuity.
I suspect that if the citizens who “approved” the plan, may have thought twice if the cost of the stadium was expressed in a dollar amount or percentage of their personal taxes.
In fact probably every day you will read of groups or individuals lobbying the government for some sort of “improvement” – using tax payers money of course where a local fund raiser from affected people would often be the most sensible thing to do.
Considering that we all pay close to 50% of our earnings to support our government(roughly 30% income tax, 15% GST), just imagine how a major cut in taxation would enable people to look after themselves.
According to the economist Milton Friedman, whose policies have benefited NZ in a number of ways and I have the utmost respect for, people “at the bottom of the ladder”, would not only be able to look after themselves, but have money left over – and- the economy would be far more buoyant without the risk of inflation.
What would be even more beneficial, seeing as how the government is always moaning that Kiwi’s don’t save enough, would be to STOP TAXING SAVINGS. A very simple solution. Kiwi Saver takes a small step towards this with a government gift to get you going, but after that you pay tax as usual while your money is locked away for you.
I used to be on a superannuation scheme where my employer matched my contributions dollar for dollar. Yup you guessed it, my dollar from my salary was taxed and the dollar from my employer was taxed as well. I think I got about 65 cents instead.
Unfortunately we are very fertile ground for green initiatives which are of course touted by the government as being ‘free’ or ‘inexpensive’, which they would not be if the tax payer subsidy was disclosed. Of course this unfortunately intensifies negatively the effect I describe in the above paragraph.
So there you have it. How a beautiful wealthy country can be ruined by its own citizens with covert help from its unprincipled government.
I know we are not the only country in the world with these problems, but NZ always prides itself in being a world leader, ignoring how futile any effect must be from such a small country.
Maybe we just need to change our direction in becoming a world leader. A smaller, less expensive government, (take a look at how Switzerland does it) and a lot less tax.
Why we could even be the wealthiest country in the world, eclipsing our neighbors across the ditch, no starving children, everyone with a fair chance to find a house that meets their needs.
I think its OK to be wealthy, but some people are embarrassed about it. Well maybe thats where our problem really lies.