Is Our Economy like the Titanic?By Deirdre Kent, a member of the New Economics Party and co-founder of Otaki’s Transition Towns
The Fabian Society invited six speakers to use the analogy of New Zealand as the Titanic to share how they viewed the state of the New Zealand economy — headed towards disaster, but with the advantage of time and knowledge to avoid the economic and social icebergs.
The panellists, chaired by Russell Brown, told an audience of 220 in Wellington recently of changes that could take place to steer the ship through a better path. And they presented a wealth of ideas and solutions for a better and fairer future.
( Ed — The New Economics Party has been formed by members of Living Economies Educational Trust and the Transition Town movement. Led by Deirdre Kent and Phil Stevens, it is a group of people who want to work on more powerful policies than are currently being advocated by the Green Party of NZ.)
John Walley, of the Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told the meeting the strongest part of the economy is land and buildings.
He said: “The dairy industry employs fewer people than we lost in manufacturing over the last four years. There are insufficient lifeboats and we are ignoring the ice warnings. We have few options and less resilience.”
Rick Boven said the world was on track for two degrees warming and more, the growth paradigm was obsolete, so the future will not be an extension of the past.
Bernard Hickey of journalism.co.nz said the economy, like the Titanic, has a design flaw. Debt ridden, the global economy has been financialised and this is leading to a hoarding problem where money gets stuck in banks and in T-bonds.
The problem is illustrated by the fact that a physicist called David Harding is now a hedge fund manager (Winton Capital) to trade commodities like wheat, gold and oil and is now worth $1.4billion. He makes this money by employing scientists to write algorithms and has opened a new branch hear the Hadron Collider so that physicists won’t have to move house.
Rod Oram critical of foreign investment
Rod Oram said: ‘Foreign investment in New Zealand has been barely OK or worse’.
Millionaire businessman Selwyn Pellett says he has reduced his power bill because he ought to, though he doesn’t need to.
He said that four banks made $3.6 billion profits which was the equivalent of the next 46 companies and warned that we shouldn’t gamble on being the food basket of the world.
He says because of exchange rates he has to double his production to stand still. “The temptation for people like me is to retire and invest in property.”
Student leaders said that while the band played on they will never own a house.
Describing how the New Economics Party was set up, Ms Kent says: “It was conceived in September 2011. Laurence Boomert from the Bank of Real Solutions stood in Wellington Central as a candidate representing this unregistered party. We now have a secretary, Natalie Hormann, and a treasurer and a membership form. We believe our policies are of worldwide significance in the effort to break free of corporate rule and meet the Very Big Problem we all face. We have IT specialists helping us with this website.”