New Zealand’s been in economic decline for decades…

… but never mind, we’re good at rugby and it’s a great place to bring up kids.

frog in the proverbial heating potThose are good points, except that hundreds of thousands of those kids are brought up in Australia. New Zealand’s economic goose has been gradually cooked by half a century of poor political decisions and short-sighted economic policies. Sadly, like the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot, most New Zealanders aren’t yet aware of the seriousness of the problem. We’re teetering on the brink of third world status.

The reason this is happening is that we’ve lost the capacity to innovate. Our two biggest income earners are agriculture and tourism, two industries that produce lots of low paying, dead-end jobs. Our prosperity was built on innovation, then we stopped doing it. Sir Paul Callaghan describes this problem in detail in the video link I’ve provided below.

Consider:

Continue reading “New Zealand’s been in economic decline for decades…”

In defence of the realm

Once were warriorsDefence personnel cuts announced recently are no surprise. Yet again. it’s less than a year since the last lot. It’s a pity that the projected savings can’t be put to use in restoring our defence forces to a modicum of credibility.

This on top of an intention to cut $300 million from the police budget without reducing front line effectiveness.

Yeah, right.

Our servicemen and women have shown time and again over many years that they’re as good as it gets. The problem is that their numbers are pathetic and their major equipment disgracefully inadequate. Not to mention inadequate pay and conditions that go back at least half a century and probably longer.

Why weren’t our politicians (on either side of the house) as careful with our money when they opened the chequebook to the finance companies with a breathtakingly incompetent absence of no-brainer basic conditions which have cost Ewen Mee billions? When they gave unaffordable tax cuts to the better off? Shelling out ever increasing amounts on consultants? When Key and his sycophants proclaim that our current retirement age is affordable?

Remember when we had allies?

I do. When I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1958, support vessels and coastal patrol craft aside, the RNZN fighting fleet comprised these actual warships:

  • 1 Dido class light cruiser active plus 1 in reserve.
  • 4 Loch class frigates active plus 2 in reserve and 2 Rothesay class building.
  • 2 minesweepers in commission (used as corvettes) plus 2 in reserve.

We could hold our heads up in comparison with those allies committed to watching our backs. Since then it’s been downhill all the way. We now have:

  • 2 Anzac class frigates.

Much of the time, one or other—or both—of those frigates are in refit or deployed far from our shores. One frigate versus 1 hunter-killer submarine—goodbye frigate.

We spend up large on unemployment benefits (as a Chinese official asked Joe Walding years ago: “Has all the work been done?”); solo parent support (how does a baby have only one parent?); and tummy-tuck operations, but we’re too far in hock to meet our real world obligations. I wonder how our “allies” feel about that. We can pay accident compensation to a prisoner who injures himself while escaping from prison but we can’t honour even half of our committed foreign aid contribution of a paltry 0.7% of GDP.

Air inferiority

In the year I joined the navy my contemporaries in the air force were flying de Havilland Vampire jet fighters and English Electric Canberra fighter bombers. I don’t know how many were operational at that time but we owned or borrowed 63 Vampires and 31 Canberras.

Now we have no fixed wing combat aircraft.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

We’re a maritime nation, seriously dependent on trade, shipping is our lifeline. We have no effective means of defending our shipping lanes, let alone keeping out tens—maybe hundreds—of millions of Asian refugees who’ll be looking for a home when rising sea levels cause the major coastal cities of India, Bangladesh, and the South East Asian river deltas to submerge and when Himalayan snow loss results annually in the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yellow River and all the other great Asian life-sustaining rivers drying up and devastating their agricultural output.

How enthusiastic will the Aussies and the Yanks be when we beg for their help after we’ve spent decades—generations even—abusing their good will?

Once were warriors indeed.

Poll of polls

The Dim-Post blog drew my attention to this excellent resource on Wikipedia. It aggregates all New Zealand political polls and is kept up-to-date by willing volunteers.

You can see the current graphical renditions of their findings below, and you can keep up to date by visiting this Wikipedia page. Before you ask, it isn’t ethical for me to “hot-link” to Wikipedia to keep the image updated with newer renditions.

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Parties over the 5% threshold for MMP seat allocation.
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Parties under the threshold - for now. 🙂

 

The Persimmon Tree cafe in Pirongia

Persimmon Tree cafe

While I’m on a roll, here’s the second installment of my favourite places.

The Persimmon Tree Café in Pirongia, a small settlement in the Waikato, New Zealand, is one of the best you’ll find anywhere. It’s a pleasant small cafe in a very nice spot in a beautiful village. It’s off the main highway. When I’m travelling to and from Auckland I usually by-pass busy Hamilton and save half an hour by turning right just after the Ngauruawahia town center where the sign points to Otorahanga. Half an hour along this road you pass through Pirongia, in the shadow of its namesake, the sacred mountain.

This is one of several reviews at Menumania. Not all the reviews were so good but the whingers’ views don’t reflect my experiences over recent years:

I am a regular at the Persimmon Tree cafe and have been going there since it opened. I am always impressed by their quality of food, level of service and general ambience of the cafe. The food and staff are what keep me going back. Andrew and Michelle are excellent hosts and work really hard at maintaining the high standards.

The food is varied, priced appropriately, always fresh and tasty.

The cafe is child friendly and the open grounds provide plenty of space for the kids to burn off those delicious desserts.

I can not understand why some previous comments are not so favourable: perhaps they are the jealous owners or friends of competing businesses.

I agree with the above sentiments. I’ve been to the Persimmon Tree 40 or 50 times and I’ve never had a bad experience. The food is 5 star, the staff are cheerful and pleasant, they serve a la carte and counter food of a relatively high standard, the presentation is first class, the prices are very reasonable for the quality provided, the coffee is excellent — and they don’t charge extra for decaf, a regular and unjustified cafe rort which infuriates me. It’s annoying enough that my aging metabolism’s losing the ability to deal with caffeine without being ripped off for an unjustified extra 50¢ or $1 a cup.

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In defence of the realm

Once were warriorsDefence personnel cuts announced yesterday are no surprise. It’s just a pity that the $25 million saved can’t be put to use in restoring our defence forces to a modest level of credibility.

This is no criticism of our servicemen and women. As they’ve shown time and again over many years that they’re as good as it gets. The problem is that their numbers are pathetic and their major equipment disgracefully inadequate.

Why weren’t our politicians (on both sides of the house) as careful with our money when they opened the chequebook to the finance companies with a breathtakingly incompetent absence of no-brainer basic conditions which have cost Ewen Mee a couple of billion?

Remember when we had allies?

I do — I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1958. Support vessels and coastal patrol craft aside, the RNZN fighting fleet comprised these actual warships:

  • 1 Dido class light cruiser plus 1 in reserve.
  • 4 Loch class frigates plus 2 in reserve and 2 Rothesay class building.
  • 2 minesweepers (used as corvettes) plus 2 in reserve.

We could hold our heads up in comparison with those allies committed to watching our backs. Since then it’s been downhill all the way. We now have:

  • 2 Anzac class frigates.

Much of the time, one of those frigates is in refit. One frigate versus one hunter-killer submarine—goodbye frigate.

We can spend up large on unemployment benefits (has all the work been done?), solo parent support (how many of those babies have only one parent?), and tummy-tuck operations, but we’re too far in hock to meet our real-world obligations. I wonder how our “allies” feel about that.

We can pay accident compensation to a prisoner who injures himself while escaping from prison but we can’t even meet a half of our promised foreign aid contribution of a paltry 0.7% of GDP.

Air inferiority

In the year I joined the navy my contemporaries in the air force were flying de Havilland Vampire jet fighters and English Electric Canberra fighter bombers. I don’t know how many were operational at that time but we owned or borrowed 63 Vampires and 31 Canberras.

Now we have no fixed wing combat aircraft.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

We’re a maritime nation, seriously dependent on trade, shipping is our lifeline. We have no effective means of defending our shipping lanes, let alone keeping out tens of millions of Asian refugees who’ll be looking for a home when the major coastal cities of India, Bangladesh, and the South East Asian river deltas submerge and when the Himalayan snow loss results in the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yellow River and all the other great Asian life sustaining rivers drying up annually.

How enthusiastic will the Aussies and the Yanks be when we beg for help after we’ve spent decades—generations even—abusing their good will?

They may now be milking our milkers, but we started the milking.

Once were warriors indeed.

Keeping ahead of Botswana

Catching up with Australia? Not at this rate

After 50 years of economic blundering it’s a big job to explain New Zealand’s economic doldrums in 6 minutes. In this video Paul Newfield has a good stab at it. If you plan for a future in New Zealand, please listen to Paul. His message is vitally important and it only takes 7 minutes.

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In a nutshell:

  • By 2025 we’re on track to be overtaken economically by Botswana and Khazakstan.
  • We’ve gone from being the richest country in the world to being 32nd by Paul’s count. According to my current figures we’ve sunk much further: to around 51st. Probably because his figures are for the OECD only. There are plenty of countries not even in the OECD who’ve left us in their dust.
  • Not covered in the video: since 2008 we’ve fallen 5 places in OECD per-capita GDP rankings, Australia have risen 5 places. Catching up with Australia seems to be needing little more work Mr Key.

Decades of economic vandalism and political opportunism have left us watching our children departing our shores in droves. We’re paying to educate the builders of the Australian economy. A million Kiwis are living overseas. That’s 20% of our population.

After you’ve watched this short clip please put aside an hour to watch the late and very much lamented Dr Sir Paul Callaghan’s entertaining, fascinating, but frightening presentation which you can see right here. The actual video is an hour and a half, but the last half-hour is just audience questions and not vital to the message. Sir Paul set out to find out where we’ve gone wrong and nailed it. Our current government made hime New Zealander of the year in 2011 but totally rejected his message.