Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Gone Fishing


So here's a thought or two – based on the idea National want to use taxpayer money to pay expenses like rent and electricity for young beneficiaries.
It's a dumb idea because it contradicts one of the fundamental tenets of National Party dogma – taking responsibility for yourself.  Having the taxpayers of New Zealand pay rent and utility bills directly absolves the individual of responsibility for managing this part of looking after themselves.
Has anyone considered the potential for rorting?  As a landlord I'd be tempted to push an under-resourced public service, with a new task of managing significant proportions of people's budgets, for an extra ten or twenty bucks a week, where I could.  Except of course I'm not a landlord.  But can anyone assure me not a single landlord will try this one on?
And of course if landlords do manage to push rents up, the effect will flow on through the rental and property market as higher rents and higher property prices.  Without actually creating any extra value to the country.  All in all it seems like sleight of hand from a merchant banker, and an excuse to create new troughs from which National voters can guzzle.
But let's disappear off to fairy land, for a moment, and assume National are on to something.  The principle is "the government makes payments when the people who are currently responsible, generally as a group, do not meet their responsibilities and fail to make payments, thereby depriving others of money that is rightfully theirs".
How about we apply the principle to the fishing industry?  They are not very good at paying the workers on foreign flagged fishing vessels.  So, according to the principle, the government, via the taxpayers, should guarantee at least minimum wage.  If it's not affordable to pay fishers minimum wage, then the fishery is, by definition, not sustainable.  Bring on the market forces that raise the price of fish to a point where people can make a living from fishing, or the innovation that develops methods that require less labour input.

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