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Brash’s curate’s egg

Written By: - Date published: 10:28 am, November 4th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags: , ,

I can’t be bothered doing a detailed rebuttal of Don Brash’s latest 2025 Taskforce report. It’s 150-odd pages of the same fear-mongering and shoddy statistics as last time, used to argue for the imposition of an even more radical version of his failed neoliberal agenda. It ought to be and will be ignored by everyone who matters. That said, Brash’s latest offering is a curate’s egg – nearly all of it foul and rotten but with one partially redeeming section:

Public investment projects to be justified by the business case. It is crucial that state investment in infrastructure is only undertaken when robust and transparent cost-benefit analysis shows it is warranted. We should know whether, for example, building Transmission Gully will provide a net benefit to the economy.

Now, I’m really bad at darts but let me have enough throws and eventually I’ll hit the bulls-eye. Brash is like that with economics. And this is a bulls-eye.

Government investment should be justified by the costs and benefits (in every sense, not just monetary) to the country. That would see National’s stupid Roads of National Significance canned immediately. But it should go wider to include SOEs, which are currently required to make decisions purely to maximise their own benefit/cost, ignoring the rest of the country. That leads to the crazy situation of Kiwirail importing trains it could make itself for nearly the same price and the country losing all the flow-on benefits in jobs and taxes.

So, well done, Don. I’m not sure it was quite worth how many hundreds of thousands that your ‘taskforce’ of neoliberal pensioners have cost us, since this report will just be binned like the last one (this whole exercise is about making John Key look moderate compared to the ‘scary Right’ after all). But at least you got one thing partially right and, in doing so, condemned National’s entire infrastructure investment policy.

24 comments on “Brash’s curate’s egg ”

  1. Bored 1

    Your taxes and mine have been lavished at this pack of chicken entrail readers, and various associated tarot and tea leaf readers. At no point has the historic record been checked for accuracy and validity, otherwise the assertions made would be laughed out of court. Why the hell are we paying the bill for this trite bollocks?

    • Jim Nald 1.1

      Indeed, Key has no compunction using the people’s money to keep his former party leader on the public payroll vomitting out the same old stuff that Key then publicly rejects.

      What’s the point to the people?

      These manufactured advice and engineered media moves are nauseating to the extreme.

  2. randal 3

    it is about time someone called national bluff.
    the fact is new zealand is never going to achieve the same wage level as australia and we are always going to export people there.
    the longer we spend time arguing this stupid nonsense the more time is diverted from dopin g sometyhing positive.why do you think they gave this one to brash.

    • Jim Nald 3.1

      agree.
      call national’s bluff.
      with the national govt’s record to date, closing the gap with australia is just talk and amounts to false aspirations & empty ambition.

      at the rate they blow hot air, it would be quicker for us to close the gap by buying a one-way ticket to oz.

    • They gave it to Brash and his ilk to justify paying them a huge payout .
      However the problem is not the gap,between Australia and NZ its the wage gap between rich and not so rich (poor) ) in Aotearoa. Social Democracy and Socialism is the redistibution of wealth in a fair way .
      I observe some of the very wealthy in my town and I wonder just where they get their loot.? At the same time I also observe the poor who seem to work harder and harder to make ends meet. Bugger the gap between Aussie and NZ lets get our home house in order.
      Just as an after thought ; Isnt it amazing how these seat polishers who have never done a physical days work in their lives advocate raising the super payment up to 67 and more.

    • Colonial Viper 3.3

      the fact is new zealand is never going to achieve the same wage level as australia and we are always going to export people there.

      Now we may not match their wage levels, but we should be able to build a far better, equal and happier society. That in itself will attract real talent to NZ and retain the best people here.

      • KJT 3.3.1

        The reason we still have immigrants arriving for skilled jobs is because of New Zealand’s social cohesion and the social wage. They can earn more in relation to costs in India.
        NACT will find once they have finally got rid of the things that differentiate NZ there will be no one, who actually does anything useful, wanting to work here.

  3. Nick C 4

    “Now, I’m really bad at darts but let me have enough throws and eventually I’ll hit the bulls-eye. Brash is like that with economics.”

    This is one of those posts where im keen to know whether you have any qualifications in economics Marty. Because if not that is a rather brazen comment to dismiss someone with a PHD.

    [lprent: And you know that we don’t allow discussion on who people are IRL. Take the opinion as it stands and ask a real question….

    As an aside, it is sometimes completely irrelevant what people studied to what level decades ago at uni. In all my degrees I never completed one in IT although I did do quite a lot of courses. But somehow I kept learning and seem to have somehow been a professional programmer for 20 odd years. Economics is a lot like that as well. You’re immersed in it all of the time. ]

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      een to know whether you have any qualifications in economics Marty. Because if not that is a rather brazen comment to dismiss someone with a PHD.

      I had to chuckle.

      Perhaps you missed the fact that AIG had 15 PhD’s working for them purely in portfolio risk management. Because the maximum exposure the US Govt ended up with bailing AIG out was no less than US$152B, one could say that each PhD qualified risk analyst at AIG cost the company just over US$10B each.

      Very seriously, taxi drivers are better at predicting what the economy is going to do in the next 6 months then your most any ‘Economist’ (I am speaking here specifically about ‘Financial Economists’).

      Here’s a general rule of thumb: for almost any economics question under the sun you are better off with no advice rather than the advice of an financial economist. ESPECIALLY the ones whith PhDs. Why? Because with no advice you won’t be tempted to do anything stupid or systemically risky.

      And AIG would not be in the ****, and would not have taken the American taxpayer with them.

      captcha: unaware

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      We followed the advice of people with the PhDs and the economy collapsed when they said it wasn’t going to, real jobs for real people in real countries have been in decline for the last 3 decades and have been replaced by make-work jobs in the service sector and the “financial industry”.

      Basically, listening to these idiots have made us worse off.

      • The Baron 4.2.1

        Anti-intellectualism now too Draco? You sound more like Pol Pot every day.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1

          Nope, I’m quite happy to listen to the people with PhDs that tell me that the Earth’s climate is changing. They actually have reality backing them. I’m not willing to listen to what the economists say because nothing they say is related to reality.

  4. Off topic. Kinda, but not…

    All sides of politics seem wedded to the idea of an “independent” central bank, which takes one of the most significant controls on the economy out of the hands of elected leaders – who are accountable for their decisions – and places it in those of the Reserve Bank Board, who aren’t. These people then get to yank it back and forth while looking at only one dial on the dashboard… if we’re going too fast (in their opinion) they apply the brake regardless of whether another dial tells us that’s going to stall the entire engine.

    Yet to suggest scrapping the MPA is looked upon as some sort of weird Social Credit-like nuttiness.

    This “Reserve Bank board” aren’t omniscient oracles high atop a mountain, infallible and all-seeing. They once had, as their leader and mouthpiece, this very same Don Brash!

    Humans are fallible. They make errors of judgment (as it seems the RBA has in raising the cash rate in Australia yesterday on the basis that “there’s no problem at all wth inflation but we kinda think there could be maybe at some point sometime in the future”).

    I’d rather have them made by fallible humans I can unelect every three years, not by Don Brash (or, for that matter, whoever the current leftist economist bogeyman of the Right happens to be). Wouldn’t you?

  5. I am not too sure if Brash deoes have a PhD in economics. Anyway I am bloody thankfull he is not prime minister, but don’t get me wrong I don’t like the present PM either.

  6. Rodel 7

    re Don Brash
    Q-Why did God create economists?
    A- To make meteorologists look good.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Financial economics is a failed field.

      Bin it. Send all from that field out to work the fields, where they might finally contribute something useful to society instead of destroying the livelihoods of millions of people.

      • nic 7.1.1

        Why pussyfoot around? Lets just send anyone wearing glasses straight to a re-education camp.

      • The Baron 7.1.2

        Oh I just spoke WAY too soon. Draco, you may have competition for Chairman after all!

        Viva la revolution! Who has the lighter fluid for the book burning!

    • Rodel 7.2

      or maybe
      Q Why did God create Don Brash?
      A To make our PM look good.

      Is it a bad cop-good cop pantomime?
      Nah. They’re not that good.

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