As reported this morning by Rob O’Neill on Stuff, the World Bank has recently issued a report saying NZ needs to focus more on being friendly to multinational corporations, and be less focused on supporting small NZ businesses:
Small businesses do not create jobs. They are less productive than big businesses. They are not the answer to New Zealand’s export challenge.
Instead of supporting small businesses, New Zealand should create an environment that is friendly to large multinational companies and fast-growing start-ups. We should cancel the myriad programmes currently in place to assist small businesses to become exporters because there is very little evidence they work.
The article also reports on the responses by various NZ “experts” such as Phil O’Reilly, chief executive of Business NZ, and John Banks, who generally agree with the World Bank argument, though quibbling on some aspects of it. However, all their focus is on exports as the way to boost NZ’s economy, and none on the significant and long term costs to NZ’s economy and society.
Matt McCarten’s column today is critical of the impact of at least one big businesses in NZ. He responds to comments by the “outgoing Coca-Coal boss, George Adams“, who he says, “lamented that we Kiwis didn’t have the same adulation for multinational corporations that they have for themselves.”
McCarten points out how much Kiwis have contributed to Coca Cola’s empire overseas:
New Zealanders front up over half a billion dollars each year for Adams’ employer and, in 2011, our patronage made his profits jump almost 50 per cent to a cool $66.6 million.
And, McCarten identifies some of the destruction that Coca Cola causes to the health of New Zealanders:
Let’s face it, Coca-Cola markets sugar syrup mixed with water to teenagers, rotting their teeth, giving them spotty skin and making them fat.
At the same time it brainwashes them through clever advertisements and branding campaigns using beautiful and cool peers with perfect smiles, unblemished skin and beach bodies to die for.
The message drilled into their naive subconscious is to be cool, popular and happy you have to drink this wonder drink.
Few pre-teens and teenagers can resist that siren call. It helps that once the sugar addiction kicks in, it can be as strong as tobacco dependency.
Every health professional knows the body doesn’t need sugar at all.
And this will impact on the costs to NZ’s health system and to the social costs related to it. These are costs that don’t seem to be taken into account when estimating the economic benefits of big businesses. Not all profit-making businesses are equal in their benefits to the countries in which they operate. And many small businesses contribute to their communities in ways measured by export-focused analysis.
Also today on Stuff, as reported by Marika Hill, there’s a report on the widespread, preventable occurrence of tooth decay in children from all socio-economic backgrounds. This is partly caused by the amount of sugar in their diets, especially that coming from sugary drinks.
A new government report on dental care has for the first time revealed the full extent of the problem: 34,000 children under 14 had teeth removed due to decay or infection in 2012….
Toddlers come in with teeth so rotten from sugar that they are no longer recognisable.
“Some of them have decayed right down to the gum level so it’s just roots. We can do a full clearance and take out all 20 teeth on a two-year-old.”
Poor dental hygiene is often to blame.
“Parents will give them biscuits and a drink in the middle of the night to keep them quiet. That’s the worst thing you can do.”…
Losing teeth at a young age can affect eating and speaking and cause poor self-esteem, Lingard said.
Dentures are not an option for children as their mouths grow too fast. Instead, children must wait for the second teeth to come through.
More focus should be on businesses that benefit Kiwis and New Zealand in diverse ways, than just on the short term financial benefits of businesses and exports. Not all businesses are equal. Some are better for us than others.