New Zealand Needs More Cooperatives Not More Corporations

Does New Zealand really need more multinational corporations and mega-wealthy people setting up shop here?

The government’s recently announced plans to develop ‘the New Zealand Investment Attraction Strategy’ with the aim of attracting multinational corporations and wealthy entrepreneurs to New Zealand is hardly innovative thinking. The idea that our future prosperity depends on convincing the very wealthy to live here and multinationals to relocate their research and development facilities here is a slap in the face to local innovators and businesses. And to universities and government research centres that struggle for funding. Also ironic, given the billions of dollars in our superannuation fund, ACC funds, and Kiwisaver scheme which are largely invested overseas.

To state that the New Zealand Investment Attraction Strategy will ‘benefit the whole economy’ fails to take into account that trickle down economics has now been discredited. The past decades have proved that wealthy people only create more wealth for themselves. The rest of us don’t benefit. We get increased inequality.

Inequality is a major issue in New Zealand and globally. It affects everyone, rich and poor, through social issues, health issues, and now research indicates it is linked to climate change. Economist James Boyce has shown that in the United States, states with more income inequality have weaker environmental protections, more pollution, and generally worse environmental outcomes.

More investment in our own local research facilities would have the same effect as bringing in multinational corporations in terms of job creation. It would also ensure that the research undertaken is the research that is important to New Zealanders and offers the possibility of open research on issues that are vital to the wellbeing of people and planet. The world is moving towards open source. Away from private corporations patenting important new developments and selling them at extortionate rates to create enormous wealth for directors and shareholders.

Likewise, encouragement for New Zealand’s own small businesses would be more likely to benefit the ‘whole economy’. Particularly those that embrace new egalitarian models such as social enterprises, not-for-profits, and worker-owned cooperatives.

The major issues of our time, climate change, inequality, and poverty, can only be solved by sharing wealth, resources, and knowledge. By an economy that is driven by cooperation, not corporations.

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