Wairarapa News : January 25th 2012
10 WAIRARAPA NEWS, JANUARY 25, 2012 OPINION Cancer Society Wairarapa will be closed until 30 January 2012. Patient Driving Services will not be available during this time. Driving requests may be resumed from Tuesday 24th January. Concerns? Queries? Please see your G.P or Oncology Nurse. For cancer support, call 0800 CANCER (0800 226 237) Heres wishing you a safe, healthy and sun smart festve season and very best wishes for the new year ahead. 140 Dixon Street, Masterton Ph 06 378 8039 2142976ES 2142976ES • PLUMBING • SOLAR HOT WATER • WOOD FIRES • ROOFING • DRAINLAYING Ph: 06 3774878 Mark Forsyth Wairarapa Wide 4165860AA DoasIsay,don'tdoasIdo THE LONG VIEW RICK LONG If all the nations in the world are in debt, where did all the money go?'' -- Steven Wright The austerity programme forced on Greece by its ner- vous neighbours appears to be backfiring. Well it would wouldn t it? When you reduce people s take-home pay you deny prosperity to those whose hands it would under normal circum- stances pass through. Retailers in Greece are falling like flies and are now ending up in dole queues that have little or no money to distribute. And yet this is the formula most western governments are embarking upon to ward off the double-dip recession we all fear. The National Government was narrowly returned to power on that very premise. Its pre-election platform and well-signalled sol- ution to the problem was fiscal austerity, public servant redun- dancies and welfare clampdowns. These were to be counteracted to some extent by partial asset sales. President Obama took another tack, bailing out the banks and lending companies like General Motors billions of dollars to keep them solvent. This has worked to a degree, but the US Treasury is now printing money at such a rate that the inevitable inflation is likely to rival the Weimar Repub- lic that brought Germany to its knees prior to Word War II. Just how America stays afloat is an abiding mystery. The war in Afghanistan must be costing the country dearly. I recently read about its unmanned Drone air- craft which seek out the enemy at a height that make them invisible to the naked eye yet can destroy the target with pin-point accu- racy. These amazing remote- controlled aeroplanes are piloted by people sitting in caravans in the desert near Las Vegas; how- ever, they require a crew of 180 people each to pilot the craft, oper- ate its sensors, analyse the data it collects and handle maintenance. They cost $8 million apiece and America has 7000 of them. Closer to home it doesn t get much better. An Australian friend emailed me an article discussing the debt build-up in the so-called Lucky Country . Ross Greenwood writing in Money News wondered: What is a billion? He said it was a difficult number to comprehend, but an Australian advertising agency had put it into perspective: A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive. C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet. E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes at the rate the Australian government is spending it. He went on to write that the current Australian government debt was heading towards $200 billion. $200 billion is $200,000 million. He used a home calcu- lator to work out the repayments. The current 10-year Australian Government bond rate is 4.67 per cent. He scheduled the loan over a 20 year period and said that was where it got scary. The repayment on $200 billion comes to more than one and a quarter billion dollars every month -- for 20 years. Australians taxpayers will be paying $15.4 billion in interest and principal -- $733 for every man woman and child every year. The total interest bill over the 20 years is $108 billion. I suspect similar calculations taken out on New Zealand s debt burden would disclose figures that per head of population are at least as bad -- if not worse. But John Key s first move after the election seems to be to ignore the problem. With a population of about the size of Sydney s do we really need 28 ministers? So much for reducing the cost of the civil service. Nearly a quarter of National party MP s are ministers including two-thirds of the Maori Party and all of ACT s and UnitedFuture s. This may be good for keeping his politicians in line, but it doesn t set much of an example for the frugal path he wants us all to walk down. And some ministerial roles seem to overlap. For instance we have a Minister of Justice, an Attorney-General, a Minister of Courts and a Minister of Police and Corrections. We have a Minis- ter of Conservation and a Minister for the Environment. We have a Minister for Climate Change as well as a Minister for Climate Change Negotiations. They remind me of America s drones, and will no doubt need just as many people to service them. Guy Fawkes, where are you when we need you? Meet National's latest Mr Fixit TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL CONTINUED Page 11 Years ago, a colleague went hiking for a summer hol- iday and claimed that while on the Milford Track, he had spotted two figures approach- ing who looked oddly and disturbingly familiar. One, he said, was Prime Minis- ter Jim Bolger, and the other was Bolger s Finance Minister, Bill Birch. Besides the inescapability of politics, the story said something about just how spookily inseparable Bolger and Birch seemed to be. Apparently, they walked the backwoods together, as well as the halls of power. Prime Minister John Key and his right hand man, Steven Joyce, don t seem to be going on holidays together, but their political futures are just as entwined. His second term, Key indicated in December, would be all about jobs and econ- omic growth and Joyce is the man being primed to deliver on both fronts. A self-made millionaire (in radio) by the age of 38, Joyce plainly relishes his role of delivering the hard but necess- ary brand of political messages. Just before Christmas, Joyce defined his task as being to get the public onside with plans that generate jobs, but may be other- wise unpopular. On his Beehive website, token attempts have been made at humanising the man. Evidently, Joyce owns a Retro- doodle dog called Gemma, but that s about where the fluff begins and ends. For all of Joyce s ability and ambition, Birch will be a difficult National Party legend to surpass. Serially and (sometimes) simul- taneously, Birch was the Minister of Finance, Health, ACC, Immi- gration, State Services and Employment among others. While Labour Minister, Birch introduced the Employment Contracts Act that radically liberalised the labour market and he also oversaw the privatisation of state assets. Joyce has been given similar tasks and an equal array of minis- terial levers to pull in unison -- Economic Development, Tertiary Education, Science and Inno- vation and Associate Finance. If he fails, it will not be through lacking the powers to succeed. Excuses will be in short supply, too. The global recession and Christchurch earthquakes will no longer pose the same distractions during the second term. Typically, Joyce has already set the tough love tone that we can expect to hear more of over the next three years. You can t wave a magic wand, he said recently. The only way [to create jobs] is to boost business confidence [and] boost people s confidence to go into business if they aren t there now. The only way you do that is to remove some of the roadblocks that are unnecessarily in their way, and do it with the wider per- mission of the population.
January 18th 2012
February 1st 2012