The fortunes of the country’s 150 richest people have grown by almost 20 per cent in one year but they are still calling for the easing of constrictions around wealth creation.
The National Business Review yesterday published its annual Rich List, showing that the combined wealth of New Zealand’s richest has ballooned from $38.2 billion to $45.2 billion – the highest total ever.
“What emerged again and again was the need for a regulatory and operational environment that’s conducive to wealth creation,” Ms Read said.
“Eliminating excessive regulation, easing constrictions and freeing up the entrepreneurial spirit were regarded as essential to enabling wealth creation.”
Jeweller Sir Michael Hill, worth $245 million, told NBR: “Could not the Government give us a little freedom to be able to make common sense decisions for ourselves?”
John McVicar, managing director of a forestry group that puts his family’s worth at $70 million, said economic policy should be based on reducing costs for business and increasing productivity and revenue.
That’s fine. If you ask any selected cohort of people what the government’s policy settings for driving economic growth should be, most of them will (a) have no idea, so (b) answer that the most important thing to do is to have policies that advantage the members of that cohort.
The problem is when people mistakenly think that Sir Michael Hill’s expertise in setting up jewellery franchises means he knows anything whatsoever about macroeconomics, and that he isn’t just advocating deregulation out of pure self-interest in the hope that various suckers will be gullible enough to endorse or even implement his ‘advice’ and make him even richer.
Because we know from incredibly bitter experience that deregulation is not a driver of economic growth. We carried out massive deregulation for twenty years, and we’re routinely celebrated as the most deregulated, freest, best country in the world in which to do business – but instead of sustained economic growth, this reform led to catastrophic market failures like the ’87 share market collapse, leaky homes and the finance company debacle, all of which destroyed far more wealth than the deregulation created. And at the same time, robustly regulated economies like Australia and the Northern European welfare democracies left us for dead.
Of course, it left a tiny handful of individuals much, much richer so they’re all in favor of more of the same, but anyone still listening to these people is an idiot.