Post by Crash
Well here we are in the first weekend where we can eat out and get a
haircut!! Pubs (that are not also restaurants) open their doors next
week. This is a time to review developments to date.
So there are some who believe the episode we have of Levels and
lock-downs is driven by politics first and all else of secondary
importance. The reaction to level 4 restrictions says a lot about
widespread support for the measures taken despite the terrible toll
and all the others caught up in the level 4 funeral ban. Let us never
forget that while most of us accepted the restrictions dished out,
some were devastated by events that unfolded. There will be other
Angelas with similar devastation to report.
So our PM took us down a path that has so far yielded success in
preventing widespread infection from the virus. She has demonstrated
leadership qualities that I wondered if she had. Whether what she did
was right or wrong, she took decisive action that she should now be
held to account for by a competent opposition. Winston and Shane were
no-where to be seen for a while - a magnificent achievement but no
doubt rewarded by additional funding beyond that for Horse racing that
has been announced.
What our PM has done so far though is the easy bit. Now we get to
find out whether she and Labour have what it takes to move forward and
convert this to electoral success in the upcoming election. The
budget has seen a huge response in Government spending that renders
the spend-up by National governments following the GFC and
Christchurch Earthquakes a mere footnote in history.
The legality of the actions taken, potentially decisions made by the
Government despite advice from Crown Law suspected to advise legal
restrictions on Policing, is up for scrutiny. Clearly National are
hamstrung by the fact that their leader cannot generate a level of
'Simonmania' that can counter the PM's 'Jacindamania' so they have to
work a little harder to expose any weaknesses in Government actions
that erode the widespread public support Labour have enjoyed.
Opposition assertions that 'the Government have got it all wrong' are
simply so inadequate that they rebound against National.
Do National have the capability to tread the fine line between being
dismissed as an impotent force (as Bill Rowling was against Muldoon)
and producing the wherewithal to cause the electorate to turn against
a Government currently so popular? In my humble opinion this will
decide the upcoming election.
Ardern's grip on the Treasury benches can be good only for as long as the electorate sees sufficient rationale and justification for the hard yards it is being put through at this time. I suggest this tolerance will wear thin when both the current and the longer-term impact of her (necessary) policies and actions becomes evident.
So I'd like to touch on just one factor whose fortunes and behaviour can either make or break the New Zealand economy. Tourism:
Overnight we have lost the large majority of our hitherto 4 million international tourists, and with them a super-critical component of our export earnings. (OK, the Aussies make up a fair proportion of the numbers and in their case relaxed border controls are being considered. But they're no different from us in that they too have their Covid-19 economic ramifications to deal with.)
Our crucial tourism ledger is well into the red and will remain there for the foreseeable future. A gaping black hole in the very epicentre of New Zealand's earning potential. Unsurprisingly tourism industry leaders are beseeching government for support, but this support comes at the expense of the entire nation in the form of hugely increased international indebtedness courtesy of our lender-financiers. Simply, it's "Business becomes Beneficiary".
As for promoting local tourism, this can only be a band-aid to promote further zero-productivity, zero-sum money-churning (see more on this below). Futile in terms of real-value economic recovery, while reinforcing a perniciously self-indulgent bad habit that, economically, gets us not one inch further forward.
So I'd have thought when it comes to tourism as a whole, it is reasonable to ask, is the government not only giving the kiss of life to an incurable patient in terminal condition, but also to be expected to do deliver into this economic black hole ad infinitum? Rhetorical, I know, but that's how it looks to me when such claims on the taxpayer and his overseas creditors are presumed - it seems - to have no caps or time constraints placed on them? OK, they may well have been conditional in such a way, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if they have, then as night follows day, these handouts will be extended when the cut-off comes due. But ad infinitum?
Another point for your consideration: isn't about time for the government - any government - to start investigating just how many New Zealand "businesses" are nothing but zero-productivity, zero-sum, money-churning between locals? I'd have thought that the more thoughtful among us would by now have realised what a positive difference it has made to our personal P/L ledgers when such an excess of mindless frippery and inessential discretionary spending has been "denied" us over the past couple of months.
If such a timely realisation doesn't give the nation pause, then what will?
After all, it's not as if such a reality check were not way, way overdue, is it?