Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: The Prime Minister Has Spoken

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  • Paul Campbell,

    here! here! - I too am a small hi-tech exporter - I export my labour and get paid in US$ - I watch that puppy every day and cry.

    David, I suspect you and I fly under the economic radar as do a lot of other techy self-employed bodies for hire - but I bet we bring in a huge amount of foreign exchange per person - probably a lot better than many farms.

    The previous government had a campaign to lure skilled people back from their OE - now's an even better time to be doing that - a lot of us can work anywhere in the world, NZ's a great place to choose

    Rather than railing about how high our taxes are maybe they should go out of their way to advertise how LOW our taxes are compared to elsewhere, free healthcare (in the US if you're self employed this is a godsend), a very low cost of doing business, less red tape than elsewhere (screw the BRT, they have no idea, it really is so terribly easy here) - a little handholding from MED when the self employed techy sets up shop in NZ would be useful (how to set up a shell company to handle this stuff, invoices forms, pay income taxes, GST and when NOT to pay it, best ways to move money in/out of the country ....) a couple of web pages full of tips would go a long way

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Whenever I hear John Key speak I am reminded of the Duke of Wellington's comments on the bumbling (if amiable) general Dalrymple:

    he "...has no plan, or even an idea of a plan, nor do I believe he knows the meaning of the word Plan."

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    Having spent 25 years expoorting primary products from NZ (fruit and veg) I am right behind you here.

    When we go to the market we are overwhelmed by the efforts competitor country's governments make to promotre their industries. Chile, Australia, Argentina, South Africa are our main competitors and the advertising, trade show support etc they give their exporters makes us look like bloody amateurs.

    We are used to it, we live by our wits and performance, but a government that paid more than lip service to export would make a real difference to our growers.

    I am not promoting handouts, and have no desire to return to the days when all the profit in export was from the Government export subsidies (80's), but if we are going to get through this in any sort of shape, our esteemed leaders need to start paying attention to the fact that our productive sector is sick and it will be fatal for a few. That means less exports, more imports, more unemployment relief, and the spiral continues.

    Lastly (and apologies for the rant), capital gains tax on residential property would fix a lot of ills, but no government has the balls it seems........

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    and the advertising, trade show support etc they give their exporters makes us look like bloody amateurs

    Don't tell me. Our stand at the trade show has a photo of the toothbrush fence and a folk-parody band playing, while the Aussies have a lot of hot chicks in bikinis?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    I wonder whether at some fundamental level, the members of a government that got itself elected on a promise of 'less government' and a belief in the effectiveness of the private sector might not have set themselves up for failure? It would be difficult to believe that your intervention was the best response in any circumstance.

    Meanwhile, imagine what effect a billion or two invested in stimulating environmentally friendly export businesses would have on the economy, instead of blowing it on building motorways of dubious merit...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    what's really scary is that you can just bet that they'll start using 'Murry' from FoC as a celebrity spokesperson for NZ exports turning brilliant self parody into sad reality

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    err 'Murray'

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I heart you for many reasons, David Slack, but one of them is your unerring ability to get to the crux without all the bullshit. Your post made me think about my extended family and who has exportable leanings. My father, too, dealt in exports all his life - as the managing director (these days I don't know what it means, but in those days it meant he ran things in a very hands on way) of a very large company that had dealings all around in the world, in it's heyday. Now? That company is not a company at all, it's name graces only a park in Waitakere City. There are many reasons why, but IMHO, the heart of it lies with the people who took it over who were very much in it for themselves and what profit they could gain from it. They stripped the company, and then bailed out. My Dad, who was so passionate about New Zealand that the very thought of importing what we could make ourselves, made him screw up his face with rage (and go all red, it was very impressive) would be turning in his urn of ashes. He was a big thinker, my Dad. And your post so reminded me of him - it's about getting out there, and making sure that this country we love so much is sustainable for our kids. However you do it, it has to be good for the future of our little old piece of paradise. Crosses and circles to you my friend.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Wow, Jackie. His name wouldn't have been Tom, would it?

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Corporate parasites don't help either...
    As we export our savings and banking business to all the Aussie entities, wouldn't it be grand to see those Corporate Bodies paying their way, and weight, insofar as tax goes.
    The sooner I can pull my business from the amoral BNZ the better - what tossers and definitely not team players.
    Nice that they could pay the fine from current profirts with no problem - but they think they'll probably appeal because there is so much money involved - duh! - greed as a reflex action, charming...

    yrs
    X Cise
    with interest

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    having made my rant above here's another view - we have a legacy of 3rd world poverty, be it Africa or rural China I see free trade as a way to solve those problems - it will take time, there's ma lot of wealth transfer that has to happen for those problems to be fixed - a generation or two

    In the mean time our blue collar workers are competing with them and are going to lose, unless they want to live in 3rd world conditions - the free marketeers have created a situation that is hopefully helping out the 3rd world but is ruining a lot of our local economy - in particular we're losing a lot of our primary industries, not our service industries - we need more of the former

    An economy can't just be a service economy - you need to inject new wealth from somewhere whether you lure it from elsewhere through tourism, or create it by adding value to dirt, sun and water to make meat wool and milk, or by turn random bits into music or websites or programs of beauty or making widgets from raw iron etc etc we need to focus on those sorts of things - if you're good at that all the cool cafes and bars will come for free

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    I note from the Evans article that one of the four areas where kiwis could flourish is in waste management and environmental/RMA issues. One of our problems here is the Greenwashing of NZ in tourism promotion (100%Pure etc) when the reality is somewhat different. This looks like one of those killing two birds with one stone scenarios - sort out our own problems if we want genuine eco-tourism and at the same time develop partnerships & networks to export our know-how to Asia. Work for designers, engineers, technology. This of course would require focus and commitment to a definitive strategy from govt.

    Our isolation can be a plus - lifestyle, as others have said. We need a coherent vision, with a strategy, that says This is what New Zealand will look like in 2050: Let's get cracking. Real leadership sells the vision. Are we to be merely a Mega Dairy Farm with tour services?

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I look around my extended family and I see people doing work that is of little worth to the economy. I see them making money by flipping real estate, I see them making money by being the expensive just-add-water middle man. I look at them and I think: everyone's family network probably looks like this this. One or two exporters, a host of hangers-on.

    Interesting post David. I'm a bit concerned by your segregation of people into 'export makers' and 'people of little worth to the economy'.

    Apart from the fact that we need exporters and importers and people who do all the things that do neither, sometimes I get tired of people saying that my work, savings (lack of), mortgage etc aren't meeting the country's needs.

    I actually don't do all these things for my country, I do them for me and my family and trying to get through to the next pay cheque.

    After umpteen years of individualism being pushed by the state, I fail to see why I should now heed calls that my country needs me to mess up my life to earn the country some export dollars that I suddenly owe it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Yeah, what Kyle said. The dichotomy between exporter and hanger on is a bit harsh.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Kyle, my words might not be clear. I'm segregating into three. Hangers-on applies to just a proportion of the non-exporters. What matters is that at least some of the non-exporter group change over.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Kyle's right - the guy who can make something locally cheaper or better that we buy rather than importing something (mmmm Emersons ...) has essentially the same effect to the current account deficit as someone who exports something of the same value

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    you need to inject new wealth from somewhere whether you lure it from elsewhere through tourism, or create it by adding value to dirt, sun and water to make meat wool and milk, or by turn random bits into music or websites or programs of beauty or making widgets from raw iron etc etc we need to focus on those sorts of things - if you're good at that all the cool cafes and bars will come for free

    Amen to that. A few less real estate speculators and a few more entrepreneurs are a large part of the solution. Why can we still see new homes being built on spec on new subdivisions? Because NZers are in love with bricks and mortar for good reasons. In boom times one gets capital growth, and pay no tax on this.

    There is valid argument that one does not pay tax on capital growth in shares either, however it seems NZers do not rush to shares as readily (now) and an increase in shares does not undermine our ability to offer new entrants (young and immigrants) the opportunity to own their own home.

    My family and freinds group is the same, no exporters, lot's of service industries and importers. It is a snap shot of the country.

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    The dichotomy between exporter and hanger on is a bit harsh.

    Agreed, however unless we balance the books as a country, we will go backwards. The fact I am an exporters is a lucky chance rather than wish to

    earn the country some export dollars

    However as a country we need to recognise the current trade imbalance and act upon it. Buy local is as good as exporting, I was delighted to buy a reflective cover for my cycle commuting backpack, that was made in NZ.

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Kyle, my words might not be clear. I'm segregating into three. Hangers-on applies to just a proportion of the non-exporters. What matters is that at least some of the non-exporter group change over.

    OK, that wasn't clear from:

    One or two exporters, a host of hangers-on.

    Which looked pretty binary. Who are the hanger-onners, apart from real estate types? What are the tasks that we should be discouraging?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    What are the tasks that we should be discouraging?

    I'm struggling to think of a job I've ever had that was a blind bit of use to anyone, in or out of the country.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    His name wouldn't have been Tom, would it?

    That's my daddy. He would have liked you. A lot.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Cotman,

    Hear hear David, you cut to the chase as usual. Some slightly disjointed thoughts:

    1. Earlier commenters mentioned that NZ looks like amateurs at overseas trade shows. I'd like to beg the opposite - at the three times I've been to the largest healthcare show in Europe, the NZTE-sponsored stand looked shit-hot compared to the Aussies, the British and the Yanks.The Swiss and Brazilians give us a run for our money though.

    2. Encouraging kiwis to become export-earners 'because it's the right thing to do for the country' assumes we have a fairly broad understanding of macroeconomics and an almost missionary zeal to improve the nation as a whole. Does that spirit really exist in NZ?

    3. Don't reverse the brain drain - let kiwis stay overseas, but encourage them to work for NZ companies in their offshore offices. I live in France, and have NZ friends in China, Korea, Japan who all speak the local language and could make a real contribution to their home country given the right opportunity. Kiwis abroad have a wealth of experience, networks and time spent in foreign markets - we need to use these "feet on the ground" more.

    Montpellier (France) • Since Mar 2009 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    The fact I am an exporters is a lucky chance rather than wish to.

    Good on you for saying that. It was certainly the path that led me to being an "exporter" - until the recession of '93 killed the conditions that made that possible, and I turned to earning export dollars for the Australian economy. Now the nicest thing I can say is that it took two Filipinos to replace me (in Manila), and on a personal level, training them was a pleasure.

    I had it coming all along, though. I first got into the line of work that enabled me to call myself an exporter back in the 70s, when I was a keen and relatively low-wage replacement for yet another complacent and overpaid American.

    While I wish David the best, and may his work situation continue for as long as he needs, I just don't buy the message that it's largely due to his having made the right moral choices.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Our isolation can be a plus - lifestyle, as others have said.

    NZ could easily market itself as a digital Swiss bank - all it needs is an extra Southern Cross cable or two or three.

    We need a coherent vision, with a strategy, that says This is what New Zealand will look like in 2050: Let's get cracking. Real leadership sells the vision. Are we to be merely a Mega Dairy Farm with tour services?

    And we can't just wait for Henry Waxman & Edward Markey to force our hand.

    A few less real estate speculators and a few more entrepreneurs are a large part of the solution. Why can we still see new homes being built on spec on new subdivisions? Because NZers are in love with bricks and mortar for good reasons. In boom times one gets capital growth, and pay no tax on this.

    I've mentioned it before, but a "McMansion tax" would be more workable than an across-the-board CGT.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I'm struggling to think of a job I've ever had that was a blind bit of use to anyone, in or out of the country.

    Now, now, Danielle. I happen to think that one of your jobs, as a librarian, has done us all a huge service. I shudder to think what my life would look like without books. That I borrowed from a library. That was supported by people who make sure that we have interesting books to read, who help us with our enquiries and who are very knowledgable about the very valuable database they are custodians of. You see? More importantly, you brought yourself back here, and IMHO that counts for alot. Can't have a country without peoples can you? And you certainly can't have a successful country without learned, well read people. That's how I see what David has written. Some may say that my job is not exportable. I say that by investing my time and energy into Mangere's three and four year olds, I am almost certainly imbuing some future citzens who will be of huge use to their country, with my own personal brand of engagement with the world. Perhaps we all have to learn to see what we do, or what we could do, as being of benefit.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

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