Green Party: “I can do Economics, me.” Economists: “No, no you can’t.”

The above video was posted on Facebook, with the comment “Want to vote Green but think they can’t sort out the economy? Watch Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman explain how we can do a much better job than National”. Let’s start making some comments about this.

According to Dr. Norman, the big banks have sent $3.5 billion overseas. Most (but not all) of that went to other countries. Do I really need to explain how wrong that is?

In terms of banking, Dr. Norman says that they are going to give the Government’s banking contract to Kiwibank. That’s something I would support. However, he then says that Westpac has a “cosy monopoly” and this needs to be broken up in the short term, while Kiwibank prepares to have the full Government contract. They are suggesting Westpac has a cosy monopoly that needs to be broken up so they can give the exact same cosy monopoly to Kiwibank… What? Surely it would make more sense then, by Dr. Norman’s own logic, to give the Government contract to Kiwibank, TSB Bank and SBS Bank. Three banks owned by New Zealanders, not just one. This removes the “cosy monopoly”.

Apparently, tourism is our “single biggest export”, just behind dairy. Get your facts right, Dr. Norman. It’s the other way around. Also, surprisingly, he didn’t mention ecotourism. I wish he did so I could laugh at him a bit more.

The final thing I noticed is Dr. Norman suggesting that the Government is subsidising greenhouse emissions, a “intergenerational crime against humanity”. I don’t understand. Firstly, I don’t agree that the Government is subsidising greenhouse emissions, but even if they are, how is that a crime against humanity. Emotive words with little substance. The Green Party is clearly playing the propaganda game.

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Posted on July 3, 2011, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You start with a title citing ‘economists’ yet don’t cite a single one. The major banks operating in New Zealand are Australian or otherwise foreign owned, they repatriate their profits overseas to their own centres of operations; this is a well-documented and uncontroversial phenomenon. So yes, you do need to explain how wrong this is.
    Kiwibank is the only one of the New Zealand owned banks that could possibly handle the Government master banking contract.

    Last year, tourism did in fact overtake dairy as our largest export earner. Check your stats: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/industry_sectors/Tourism/tourism-satellite-account-2010.aspx.

    The basis of the claim that climate change is an “intergenerational crime against humanity” is based on the following definition from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Crimes against humanity “are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.”

    Given the effects of climate change manifesting as sea-level rises, loss of biodiversity, destruction of food security, ocean acidification, etc. they clearly fit within the above definition and all but a few agree that these are a result of human activity. Given the permanence of these effects and the inevitability and severity of their effects they are intergenerational in scope.

    To be more precise, you’ll note that the definition specifically includes government action or inaction in policy. First, we believe that the ETS is a poor second choice to the carbon tax initially proposed by Jeanette Fitzsimons. But in the context of the ETS, as just one example, by leaving agriculture out of the scheme our government are effectively subsidising the producers of about 50% of our GHG emissions. This is a subsidy paid by the rest of us to the industry. We are not arguing that the dairy industry should be punished but when their obligation would be 2.5 cents per kg of milk solids (current commodity prices are about $8 per kilo paid to farmers) it seems wilfully unfair to leave them out.

    It’s a shame you couldn’t engage with the substance of the speech which is that we need to come up with a more intelligent use of our natural environment that doesn’t destroy the one thing that makes New Zealand special. Continuing with our historical industries is not doing us any good and competing with the rest of the world to squeeze commodities out of a tiny land mass is the surest path to killing the goose that lays the golden egg. We produce some of the finest dairy in the world but then dehydrate it and sell it as powder in unmarked brown paper bags on the world commodity markets. Does this make sense? It’s not even working out for the farmers, they are mostly heavily-indebted and despite record payouts for milk solids are only barely able to pay the interest on their conversion loans.

    Perhaps watch this and see what you think:
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/a-measure-of-science/2011/04/20/sir-paul-callaghan-on-sustainable-economic-growth/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciblogsnz+%28SciBlogs.co.nz%29

    • The title was effectively saying that as much as the Green Party THINKS it can do economics, this video clearly shows they can’t.

      I do not think that TSB and SBS should be involved with the Government Banking. What I do think is that the Green Party is being hypocritical when they say that Westpac has a “cosy monopoly” when they then promote the same “monopoly” for Kiwibank.

      Okay… If a certain amount of money is going overseas, how can it be that not all of that money is going to other countries? Or do I need to speak a little bit slower?

      So tourism overtook dairy, even though Dr. Norman said that dairy has overtaken tourism in the past year… Either way it makes no sense and involves a lack of facts.

      I am not going to start debating anthropogenic climate change. I do not believe in it, mostly because it fails to explain the evidence that this exact pattern has happened before, well before man’s so called desire for carbon. But anyway, as I say, I’m not going to start debating that here. Given there is no decisive proof (and don’t start quoting the IPCC – they are proven to be untrustworthy) I feel the argument in void.

      I do agree that the environment needs to be considered, and probably considered more than it is. However, I do not feel that we should stop producing products in our “historical industries” as you put it, in order to fix our environment. Instead we need to find ways to work with our current industries to do research and development in more sustainable practices, rather than try and tax them out of the game, which Labour and the Greens want to do with the ETS

      On another related note, the Happiness Index is the sort of thing you would strive for in a utopia. However, we aren’t in a utopia. It would be economic suicide to start ignoring GDP, simply because that is how other countries rate us when deciding whether to promote trade with us. As exports account for the majority of our economy, if other countries stopped trading with us, we would be in a terrible position.

      In theory, I actually would support a good number of the Green Party policy. And when it comes to transport, and a lot of education, I do strongly agree with the Green Party. However, the Green Party wants too much. They want New Zealand, a tiny nation in the South Pacific, to lead the world. That is unrealistic, and to some degree deluded. New Zealand will never be an economic powerhouse. However, we can help ourselves get to our potential. That won’t happen with Green Party policy.

    • Oh, and I will watch that video at some point. I don’t really have time right now, but I will when I find time.

  2. The ETS scheme fails because it excludes Fonterra, NZ’s largest pollutant. A milk-powder dryer will emit roughly 1 tonne of CO2 per every 1 tonne of milk-powder it dries. Our largest dryer processes 29 tonnes an hour (others are not far behind). Dryers work round the clock. So in one hour this dryer will emit 29 tonnes of the same gas that is supposedly to blame for global warming. In one day it will emit 696 tonnes of CO2 into our “clean” atmosphere. The same occurs in smaller amounts all over the country, and I am scared to think of the size of the numbers. Is exempting Fonterra from ETS an intergenerational crime against humanity? Or are the environmental policies only good when they don’t intefere with the larger industries?

    • The ETS fails because it is New Zealand trying to lead the world in something we can’t lead the world in.

      Assuming anthropogenic Climate Change is a fact, which I don’t believe to be true, New Zealand cannot change the world, because we don’t emit carbon to the degree that countries like China and the US do. If carbon does change the climate, New Zealand reducing it’s emissions would slow down the process by about 30 seconds.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)

        New Zealand not being able to ‘change the world’* does not necessitate that New Zealand is unable to ‘lead the world’ in dealing with Greenhouse Gas emissions.

        Also there would be significant benefits to be had if New Zealand were to lead the world in developing new technologies, especially in conjunction with agriculture and forestry, as whoever develops these technologies first has the greatest chance of exploiting the IP in the global market.

        *Logically any change New Zealand makes does change the world, as New Zealand is a part of the world.

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