The TPP Is Gone, John, Time To Move On

Our Prime Minister, John Key, seems to be struggling to come to terms with the fact that the TPP is gone. The battle has been lost. The US will never accept it without major concessions like a 12 year patent period on biologics. US Pharmaceutical Corporations’ profits versus people’s access to lifesaving medicine. People’s lives versus making a few people very rich. It’s a no-brainer. We cannot go there and neither can the other 10 participating countries.

Time to move on. But not to other deals of the same ilk – albeit without the US as Mr Key is hoping against hope. Time to talk in wider terms than just businesses in one country’s desire to exploit people in another country. All in the name of ever expanding, ever increasing profits. Continue reading

RIP Kiwibank

By now most Kiwibank customers will have had their email from CEO Paul Brock telling them he wanted them “to be the first to hear the big news”. Though most would have already read about it in their daily newspaper.

The big news is that the ACC investment fund and the National Superannuation Fund have bought a 47% stake in Kiwibank. Evidently Kiwibank customers are expected to be over the moon with this deal.

Sorry Mr Brock, don’t expect us to join the celebrations. Kiwibank as we know it has gone. Continue reading

Social Investment: Social Failure?

The terms ‘social’ and ‘investment’ are an unlikely combination. Proof economists have crossed the final frontier and sallied forth with their spreadsheets into social services. Social investment means, “investment to achieve better long-term results for people and helping them to become more independent. This reduces the number of New Zealanders relying on social services and the overall costs for taxpayers” (Treasury briefing paper on social investment 2016).

To be blunt, the social investment approach is too narrow and too nasty. It involves too much invasion of privacy, too much blame, too much resentment about sharing our collective wealth for our collective benefit. And it paves the way for government-funded social service delivery to be just another profit-making opportunity for overseas corporations. Continue reading

Over-balancing the Books

Good news, of sorts; the nation’s books balance, even over-balance. It transpires there is a spare $1.8 billion left in the coffers, according to our Minister of Finance Bill English.

If running our nation were a business, this would be a great success. But it is not a business. Our government’s job is not to make a profit. Our government’s job is to manage our collective wealth in a way that benefits everyone who lives here. Underspending has dire consequences. Continue reading

What We Could Do With Our Superannuation Fund Today Instead of Squirrelling It Away

Our national superannuation fund will never completely cover annual superannuation payments. It will just provide a small top-up, eventually, maybe. The fund currently stands at $30.1 billion, but it could all disappear in a puff of smoke if there is another financial crash. Continue reading

30 Years of GST is 30 Years Too Many

The 1st of October 2016 marked 30 years since Roger Douglas and his Labour government dropped the tax rate for New Zealand’s wealthy from 66% to 48% (and later 33%) and gave the rest of us GST.

GST was a bad idea in 1996 and it is an even worse idea today. It means that everything we pay money for is 15% more expensive than it needs to be – from doctors visits, to prescription charges, to school uniforms, to food. Continue reading