John Key might be a bit "queasy" but at least he has some sound thinkers on his advisory committee, with plans to radically overhaul welfare. The challenge for him is to incentivise welfare, such that people have a vested interest in working. The problem has always been:
1. The ease with which people can pretend to be working in order to get the payment they want.
2. The higher cost of providing the intervention needed to ensure they are looking for work, or are indeed prepared to perform it. i.e. Adquately trained.
3. The inability of governments to provide 'productive work' and complaints when they would have to displace 'real' jobs undertaken by people employed under standard arrangements.
The Australian scheme suffered because people would just do their minimal 2 job interviews a day, not really caring if they got the job or not. The other problem is ensuring that there is jobs at the end of the training or welfare 'conditionality' clause, which is what really provides the incentive to work. Not tried, is the prospect of engaging with these unemployed...selling the idea that working is actually good for them. Too many are disillusioned, and too many bosses have a short fuse for disillusioned workers with an attitude.
The demand side is the most difficult side to address. The problem is that NZ is at the end of the world. It is difficult to attract investment here. NZ has to find something the rest of the world wants. I have several suggestions:
1. Drop the minimum wage - you have to earn a wage - an attempt to short up wages only creates unemployment
2. Wage differentiation between a 'recession wage' and bonuses retained by employer trust fund for bad times, to help the country build savings. I actually don't like the idea of government intervention in people's income, but in the context of current problems, people need to be encouraged to support themselves. The NZ economy is not doing that, so people need to be encouraged to save. Better if people are individually incentivised, so they take responsibility. i.e. They are required to save their pension until they have a surplus above minimum, thereafter they spend their money as they will.
3. Immigration - I am not a fan of governments using immigration to stimulate economic activity, but NZ needs growth, so siphoning off some of the better-skilled Asians is probably a good idea, at least until the nation's population reaches 8-10mil. i.e. Double current numbers. We all love contemporary NZ as a place to visit...what about escalating it to a place we want to live. Of course greater integration with Australia effectively will help, so the required number could be considerably smaller.
4. Oil discovery - The NZ government ought to be offering subsidises for NZ oil explorers to go out and find oil in its vast offshore basins.
5. Social reconciliation - The problem in democracy is that there is no effective reconciliation of interests. People are able to delude themselves, to retain a self-righteous vested interest group and lobby govt. No respect for facts. Its all about influence. There are people like the animal rights groups who need to be challenged. Parliament needs to be opened up and accountable to meritocrats in the community. At the moment, parliamentarians are as accountable as welfare recipients. I would argue they are honorised welfare recipients at the moment, except they receive it as extortion of taxpayers rather than as a passive recipient of 'entitlements'.
6. Redefine Christchurch as a 'modern city' rather than attempting to 'prop up' its stilted old buildings, only to see them fall over with the next earthquake. Use modern design to create a futuristic city, and at the same time build innovative products that can be exported around the world. We no longer need big homes if we are living in public spaces. Find new economic ways of living, commuting and develop those schemes. Make eco-living an affordable and sensible concept so NZ can absorb 10mil people, and gain the respect of the world. Do that for Christchurch and people will want to live there, irrespective of the earthquake. I would allow Japanese companies who have already designed such schemes to come in and develop a 'mini-Japan' for Japanese retirees. This could be the basis of a free trade agreement with the Japanese, giving NZ'ers the opportunity to live and work in Japan.
There are too many NZ'ers living in a delusional world of government support, and these people are sanctioned by taxpayers who stand too readily to indulge their every indulgence and hard luck story. The fact that people were hurt by the earthquake is a testament to their unpreparedness for life. Those better NZ'ers need to require more of the 'other half' lest this country stays a nation of parasites. I know a number of aspirational New Zealanders overseas and they convey the psyche of parasites, manipulators and con men. Its the welfare mentality permeating this nation. A Christian-socialistic-collectivist culture that needs to be eliminated. A nation of perpetrators and victims, but always with a delusional smile. They can endlessly drop their expectations or standards, but at the end of the day...someone is going to pay. The brain drain is the inevitable result of the moral discourse in this country. Is John Key brave enough to confront it. On two levels, one is inclined to think he is:
1. He came out critical of those on welfare....I hope to does retain a level of engagement with welfare recipients....not a detached, self-righteousness. They do have legitimate issues, i.e. There are few jobs.
2. He has embraced the need for welfare reform.