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Did I miss something?

20 May 2020

So the big-chance budget has come and gone. Surely I missed something.

I really didn't see the powerful financial statements that will lead this country into a bold new era of economic growth and prosperity. I didn't see the kind of bold leadership initiatives that come from a budget which looks beyond the end of the present government's political tenure.

Sadly, I also didn't see anything from the opposition except criticism and ideological rhetoric.

But how disappointing that this budget didn't paint a bright vision of a nation that stands ready to leverage its almost unique position as being "virus free" well ahead of other global superpowers such the USA, China and Europe.

To be honest, with so much potential and opportunity staring us in the face, I am somewhat underwhelmed.

This seems to be more of a budget of crutches and support-garments than one of sprinting shoes and training equipment.

Not a lot of vision and very little boldness, of a type really needed right now.

No real direction for our energy future or transportation -- other than a few coins thrown at existing bits of infrastructure. That's a huge shame because energy will continue to be a seriously important issue in the planet's future and we remain far too reliant on fossil fuels.

One regular long-time reader sent me a link to a very interesting story about how wood is being used as a construction material for wind-generators in Sweden. That's actually pretty cool, building your zero-emission generation system from sequestered carbon.

Hey, don't we grow a lot of wood here in New Zealand? Just saying.

Also, since we've very clearly seen the massive benefits of using the internet to overcome physical distancing during the lockdowns, where are the government initiatives to extend this far beyond "working from home?". Where (as I've asked so many times before) are the initiatives to really get our knowledge-based economy rolling so that we can massively increase our ability to earn money without the need to ship physical products or endure the risks associated with of legions of overseas tourists crossing our borders on a regular basis?

Okay, we're going to get some more apprentices being trained in the trades -- that's good. Even the most hi-tech worker still needs plumbing and wiring in their house and good tradies are hard to find. However, surely we should be focusing on enriching the entire nation, not just individials.

What do I mean?

Well take my job for example...

Every dollar I earn comes from outside New Zealand. My monthly payments come in US dollars from US companies. That makes New Zealand richer and the USA poorer.

What's more, just about every dollar I spend is spent within New Zealand so the money I get really does grow the size and value of the local economy.

However, despite the immense value of their work, someone who works locally and receives their money from other NZers inside NZ is not producing the same enrichment of the entire country. For them to earn a dollar, that dollar has to come out of someone else's pocket -- hence the net gain to the nation is near zero.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denegrating the importance of those who work solely within the local economy but I am emphasizing that we should be far more focused on export earnings as a way of improving the lot of *everyone* in this country.

No matter how many times a dollar changes hands within NZ, we still only have the same number of dollars. When we earn dollars from other countries, everyone gets richer because the number of dollars we have is increased.

If a government is going to pour money into development and support of an economy, why wouldn't they place a significant focus on export-earning opportunities? Especially when our biggest previous earner (tourism) is likely to be all but wiped out. We really do need a replacement or replacements for tourism if we're going to maintain our balance of payments ledger.

Sadly, I didn't see enough of this in the budget. Too much of the spending was focused on boosting or sustaining industries targeting domestic customers.

I guess only time will tell whether the government got it right or whether they have failed to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity to really improve our lot.

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