Steven Joyce, Minister for Everything had an op-ed in the Herald a couple days ago lamenting the nay-sayers in New Zealand who demand growth, jobs etc but cripple our economy by imposing too many constraints:
We need an environment that is encouraging to entrepreneurs and ideas people. We need to ensure we make resources available for businesses to use. We need stronger and more internationally integrated capital markets that provide money for investment. We need to ensure our people have the right skills. And we need to remember that we have a small domestic market, so our businesses will need to access world markets a lot earlier than similar businesses in countries located in larger world populations.
That doesn’t mean handouts. It just means removing more of the roadblocks that stop people from doing things.
And that’s when the problems start to arrive. The people who say “we want jobs” but then in the next breath say “but you can’t do that … you can’t build that there … you can’t expand that … you can’t explore for that there … you can’t live here … you can’t invest in property here – you just can’t do that!”
And very quickly we start limiting our options. Through the 2000s, as a country, we progressively boxed ourselves in more and more to depend on fewer and fewer industries based on what the “can’ts” said.
Firstly, almost every meaningful international study routinely crowns New Zealand as one of the best countries in the world in terms of regulatory environment and ease of doing business. There’s something pathetic about the endless lament we hear from our business leaders, endlessly crying about how HARD it is for them to get anything done, in what is literally the easiest country in the world for them to operate.
Secondly, Joyce claims that can’t have job growth because we ‘boxed ourselves in’ during the 2000s. Which is funny, because we had extraordinary job growth during that exact same period. What he’s really saying is that New Zealand needs yet more deregulation. So what he’s really saying is: ‘We need more finance company debacles and leaky home crisis’, or, more plainly: ‘We need to structure our economy so that a small number of people make vast profits until the market fails horribly and all the costs are picked up by the taxpayer.’
Saying ‘You can’t’ has a cost. But saying, ‘You can, and we’ll assume nothing bad will happen, and if it does the public will wear the cost,’ also has a cost. And it tends to be a lot larger than saying, ‘You can’t.’