Our government and local bodies are becoming embarrassingly desperate to attract rich people to our country and our cities. Nothing is too much bother; building five star hotels, luxury conference venues, changing our laws so they can cut corners on labour costs for their movies, or just making them New Zealand citizens even though they don’t live here, or even want to live here.
Actor Johnny Depp has been in the news lately for being unable to make ends meet. More interesting than his inability to live within his lavish means, is the list of his expenses. According to the Business Insider, they include US$3 million to blast Hunter S Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon, $75 million on 14 residences around the world, $200,000 a month to maintain a Gulfstream private jet. He has 12 storage facilities to house his collection of rare and expensive Hollywood memorabilia. Depp also has an art collection of over 200 pieces including the likes of Andy Warhol. A job creator Depp is not. Very little trickle down of wealth happening there.
Shooting ashes from cannons aside, Depp’s expense list is probably very similar to most of the excessively wealthy; property, collectibles, private jets. Mega-rich people do not make the rest of us rich, or even moderately well off. The only thing they do is increase inequality. And that is bad – for everyone.
We don’t need to chase the big money. We don’t need to grovel at the feet of the mega-wealthy. Nor do we need to try to attract the best and brightest through elitist immigration policies.
New Zealand already has plenty of very bright innovative people. All we need to do is to get rid of impediments that stop them being the best they can be. Growing up in a warm dry healthy home, a great public education system, free tertiary education, good medical care. The conditions that make life better for everyone create the perfect environment for excellence and innovation.
We should welcome immigrants, people who want to live here, people who need to live here. We do not need to poach the rich and talented from other countries or ride on their coat tails.
We have enough, if we share it equitably.