Chickens coming home to roost again

chickens
The following is an extensive extract from the Business Insider. I recommend ignoring my extract and reading the full post right here, but if you’re determined not to, go ahead and read my truncated version.

It’s a little technical and although my knowledge of economic theory is improving, I don’t understand all of it. But the implications for all of us are very serious. This is the stuff that John Key and Bill English seem able to gloss over but which continues to make a mockery of their ever-optimistic and perennially wrong economic forecasts. The 95% that I do understand isn’t really debatable. As you’ll find when you read it, there’s an inevitability to what is happening that lends it verisimilitude.

This is just part of the reasons why John Key gave up on catching up with Australia and Bill English made a virtue of our being poorer than our mates across the ever-widening ditch. The ill-informed, self-serving and uninspiring people you put in power don’t get it.

The last paragraph is spine-chilling, provocative, and hopefully will not come to pass.

Not yet.

Over to Raul Ilargi Mendoz…

…and quotes within quotes:
Continue reading “Chickens coming home to roost again”

Thanks, but no thanks…

Idea of the Week

In the “Why didn’t I think of that” category …none of the above button

In the Listener a while back letter writer John Mihaljevic, prompted by the dubious selection of Auckland mayoral candidates, suggested that all ballot papers for national and local body elections should include the option: “None of the Above”.

Furthermore, John stipulated,

“Any election in which this option receives the most votes should be repeated, without any of the candidates being allowed to take part, except, perhaps, to pay for it.”

Right on, John. Excellent idea. Let’s do it. Retrospectively would be good.

I’ve yearned for such an option, but hadn’t the wit to suggest what should have been such an obvious and potentially invaluable follow-up rule. I really needed this in the 2008 election. I voted National because the alternatives were worse and because I hoped that they had a cunning plan. They didn’t.

I didn’t make the same mistake in 2011.

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Thanks, but no thanks…

Idea of the Weeknone of the above badge

In the “Why didn’t I think of that” category …

In the New Zealand Listener a while back letter writer John Mihaljevic, prompted by the dubious selection of Auckland mayoral candidates, suggested that all ballot papers for national and local body elections should include the option: “None of the Above”.

Furthermore, John stipulated,

“Any election in which this option receives the most votes should be repeated, without any of the candidates being allowed to take part, except, perhaps, to pay for it.”

Right on, John. Excellent idea. Let’s do it. Retrospectively would be good.

I’ve yearned for such an option, but hadn’t the wit to suggest what should have been such an obvious and potentially invaluable follow-up rule. I really needed this at the last national election. I voted for the National no-hopers because the alternatives were worse and because I hoped that they had a cunning plan.

They didn’t have a plan, cunning or otherwise.

Wondering about political colour

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

Winston Churchill

This is an outdated post and will be rejuvenated soon. Since this rant, I’ve reassessed the priorities and am now a Green member. Keep listening. 🙂

I’m not a satisfied member of any political party. I see no future for any of them in their current forms.

I’m neither red nor blue. Those tired labels are irrelevant in the 21st Century. There are aspects of right and left dogma that are desirable and aspects that are best left in history’s rubbish bin.

I’m an environmentalist, but the Green party which I joined a couple of years ago have limited attraction. Their ranks contain too many water melons. They need to wrench their organic roots away from the loonie left.

If Winston Churchill was around today I think he’d add to his famous quote:

If, after you’ve suffered through half a dozen election cycles, you’re still a liberal, a socialist, a conservative, an anarchist or an adherent to any other political label then you’ve not been paying attention.

Political parties and factional politics are dead in the water.

In the 2008 election I voted National. I didn’t want to—they had no vision and no integrity and they offered nothing constructive—but they were the “least worst” of a pitiful bunch and I perversely hoped that, just like every would-be governing party in the past, they were hiding their real agenda and that they’d come up with the goods when the smoke cleared.

I hoped in vain. There was nothing hidden under their bushel. Like Barack Obama, John Key missed a golden opportunity to turn unprecedented support into real change.

Our system seems beyond repair. No party is prepared to stand on principle, to tell it like it is, to start thinking beyond the next election, or to bring an end to the cycle of election bribes and pandering to special interest groups.

H.L. Mencken got it exactly right:

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule and both commonly succeed, and are right.

If an intelligent and (presumably) economically literate man like John Key won’t go to battle to fix a broken system, who will? Maybe being a successful currency manipulator doesn’t require Economics 101.

“Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”

Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre got this right in 1648. We never learn.

The only hope on the immediate horizon would be for a grand coalition between National and Labour in order to foil New Zealand First after the next election.

Then they could get left and right dogma out of the way and reach real agreement on knotty issues like education, jobs, student loans, superannuation, crime, alcohol abuse and the granddaddy of them all, upon which everything else is predicated, productivity which provides the wherewithal to address everything else.

It won’t happen.

Unless…

It’s up to you and me. It’s up to the 99% to understand the important issues so that they can recognize bad policy when they see it – which is almost always.

Neither heart nor head

Jayden
The little boy behind the moustache is my great-grandson Jayden. His mother, her husband, and Jayden are likely to move to Australia in the not too distant future. They will be better off economically while I, like thousands of other Kiwi granparents, will be devastated.

We’ve all heard the old aphorism:

If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 40, you have no head.

For the 21st Century it needs extending:

“If you’re either of the above when you’re 60 you haven’t been paying attention.”

Our political and economic system is morally and intellectually bankrupt. In the United States, Mr “Yes we can” Obama has been snookered by the system and hasn’t had the political courage to fight back. Here in New Zealand, John Key’s government seems to be able to retain popular support while doing absolutely nothing to get the country out of the morass it’s been in for decades.

I confess. I voted for Mr Key’s party. Not because I agreed with his pre-election policies. I voted for him because he was the least unpalatable alternative and I had the forlorn and perverse hope that his government—just like every other would-be government in living memory—would go back on their election pledges. I thought that perhaps he had a cunning plan. There was a glimmer of hope that he would do what needed to be done. Continue reading “Neither heart nor head”

The Treasury gets it

It’s a pity they don’t have the ears of our great and glorious leaders. Your taxes pay their salaries but it’s to no avail; the bureaucrats and the politicians are pulling in different directions.

John Whitehead, Secretary to the Treasury, gave a speech in November telling it like it is. These two images, which accompanied his talk, illustrate clearly the problems Just Wondering has been set up to address. When the Treasury Secretary tells the Government publicly that we’re in deep trouble perhaps we should be paying attention and perhaps we should be demanding that Mr Key and Mr English do too.

The must-read text of the full speech is here along with many more graphs showing the sorry state this country is in and indicating the desperate state we’re plummeting into.

GDP gets an F minus; this is the problem

I hate Powerpoint, but I’ll bite the bullet to inflict upon you these two images from the presentation. They say it all:

New Zealand long term growth record
"In 1950 we had the third-highest GDP per capita ranking among OECD countries. Last year we were ranked 22. Tumbling down a league table tells us that our competitors are doing things smarter and better. Imagine the outcry if a sports team suffered such a decline? The figure here shows that, since 1950, our average rate of growth – at 1.3 per cent – has been the lowest in the OECD. Treasury."

R&D gets an F too; could do better but just isn’t trying

This is a substantial part of the reason we have the problem. R&D is the key to the beginning of the beginning of restoring our prosperity.

New Zealand's pitiful R&D spending
If anything is going to get us out of the mess we're in, it's innovation leading to high tech businesses earning enough to pay high wages to skilled people. It isn't going to happen if we continue like this. It's not only business that's the problem. Government doesn't put enough into R&D either.

Fran’s been wondering too…

Fran O'Sullivan: switched on economics commentator
Fran O'Sullivan. Another switched on commentator whose advice we should be heeding.

Ten ways to beat our snowballing debt

Fran O’Sullivan wrote a controversial column in this week’s Sunday Herald.  It’s attracted lots of heartfelt support from the economically literate and some equally enthusiastic vitriol from the usual suspects.

You can read the full text here. 90% of what she writes is gospel truth,  some of it is a bit outrageous. I’m wondering that she may be being a wee bit provocative for effect.

I  have a couple of caveats, but if we adopted her recommendations tomorrow we would be well on the way to turning this country around. We wouldn’t fix everything but it would be a good start for setting up a climate for growth and its resultant prosperity.

Fat chance.

Fran’s 10 suggestions in a nutshell

A précis follows, Continue reading “Fran’s been wondering too…”