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Green budget ideas

Written By: - Date published: 6:21 am, May 18th, 2011 - 15 comments
Categories: budget 2011, economy, greens, sustainability - Tags:

There has been plenty of discussion of alternative budgets this week. Instead of cutting spending I’ve reviewed ways to raise income. Labour has set out an overview what they would do, with (according to Newsroom at time of writing) full policy promised well before the election, in three months time. Out in la la land Don Brash would just implement the recommendations of his 2025 Taskforce. But, as is often the case at this stage of the electoral cycle, it is the Greens who are laying out their ideas in the most detail. Go Frog:

We have choices this Budget day.

We can choose to use the deficit crisis as a reason to cut and sell and leave the economy no different from the place we were in when things went wrong. Or we can use the crisis to begin the transition to a more sustainable, prosperous, and fair economy.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call it an alternative budget, but the Green Budget Paper 2011 sets out some background material, and then five specific policies that the Greens would pursue:

Alternative 1: A temporary levy to rebuild Christchurch

A temporary levy on income would raise $1 billion each year toward the cost of rebuilding Christchurch, significantly reducing the need for additional borrowing.
Expected duration: 5 years
Impact on debt/credit rating: Positive
Sustainability: Neutral
Fairness: Reduces inequality
+$5.4 billion

Alternative 2: A capital gains tax shift into productive investment

A tax on capital gains (excluding the family home) is the fairest, most effective way to encourage private saving and strengthen the Government’s books.
Expected duration: Ongoing
Impact on debt/credit rating: Positive
Sustainability: Mildly positive
Fairness: Reduces inequality
+$4.5 billion

Alternative 3: Reprioritised spending to decouple the economy from the price of oil

Reprioritising government spending on new motorways into debt reduction and alternative modes of transport.
Expected duration: Next 5-10 years
Sustainability: Positive
Fairness: Reduces inequality
+$7.0 billion

Alternative 4: Eco-tax shift to incentivise a smart, sustainable economy

A resource charge on commercial water use would result in the more efficient use of water, leading to innovation in the agricultural sector and a shift to more sustainable forms of production.
Expected duration: Ongoing
Impact on debt/credit rating: Positive
Sustainability: Positive
Fairness: Neutral
+$746 million

Alternative 5: Protecting the most vulnerable workers: raising the minimum wage to $15/hour

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to ensure those in work have enough to live on.
Expected duration: Ongoing
Impact on debt/credit rating: Positive
Sustainability: Neutral
Fairness: Positive
+$153 million

All good stuff from the Greens. I’m particularly glad to see the third point, to make a start on decoupling the economy from the price of oil. If Labour’s full economic policy (when released) doesn’t address this issue well, then they are lost in la la land too, along with Don Brash and the Nats.

15 comments on “Green budget ideas ”

  1. ZeeBop 1

    National and Labour are worried about getting savings up and government debt down, unfortunately they have been avoiding the real problem with the NZ economy, its risk premium due to the heavy amount of private debt. National isn’t a business party for it would be up in arms about this huge burden on NZ businesses when borrowing, to have to pay a risk premium. Labour likewise isn’t a worker party since it hasn’t got the balls to call National on its failure to support the business sector, a staggering omission since it would wipe National out to have to explain how for 30 years its failed to address the chronic crisis in NZ brought on by Labours experiment with neo-liberalism. Labour and National are far too at ease with each other to be called out on the private debt crisis holding NZ on the precipice even as the storms of resource limits and global over-printing of money ravage the globe.

    In a few years, when petrol is hitting new highs, and everyone is demanding to know
    why we don’t have a public transport system in place, they aren’t going to just be
    shouting out National, but also Labour.

  2. PC Brigadier 2

    Not just because of the absence of any real alternative, they’ve got my vote. The Greens have solid economic and social policy. The Mind the Gap initiatives are well reasoned. meanwhile Labour is silent.

    • terryg 2.1

      hear hear.

      For a very long time I have given Labour my candidate vote, and the Greens my party vote. herewith my reasoning:

      Candidate Labour: I’ve never lived anywhere a Green candidate might win. And despite Rogernomics, IMO Labour DO LESS HARM when in power – its simply a damage minimisation strategy (note my careful choice of words). Labour really seems to have learned its lesson about selling off the “family silverware” (aka state assets).

      Party Green: Whilst I dont agree with all that the green party does, their energy policy has long been the most sensible – hell, national pretty much dont have one (or any other policies for that matter). And Energy (to whit: Electricity) is my professional field.

      As for the Greens budget proposals:

      1. Earthquake Levy: HELL YES. its a much better idea than begging Letterman & Oprah…

      2. CGT – YES! 1000x YES. bugger property speculators, and it still leaves the opportunity for the adept to make money out of renovating properties, you just have to live in them, and do one at a time.

      3. Paradigm shift towards public transport – again HELL YES. no holiday highway expenditure (its well below Transits own cost effectiveness criteria FFS). Nowadays my wife trains into Middlemore, it costs $35/week (c.f. $120 for a tank of gas each week) and she doesnt have to pay for parking (or try and find a bloody park). Public Transport should be our TOP priority.

      4. Resource charge on water – HELL YES. why should taxpayers subsidise farmers, who barely even pay taxes, and fill our waterways with shit? You know Farmers must be in the wrong when even the doyen of RWNJ’s Cameron Slater comes out swinging against them:


      [Kudos to Cam, even though I vehemently disagree with you on virtually everything else, +1 internets for calling out this bullshit]

      5. Raising the min wage to $15 – the ONLY one which should be even slightly controversial. I’m not sure how raising the minimum wage to $15 will earn the government $154M though? Oh, I see (actually reads PDF), Income tax & GST revenue – the govt. doesnt pay the wages, and that does include -$20M extra welfare for newly unemployed.

      2 comments re. this:
      5a. to any RWNJ who decries the ened – YOU try living on $13/hr. And then try it living in Auckland. Not to do so is just plain nasty.

      5b. likewise to those who complain about it forcing employers out of business: If your business model requires slave-like wages, then your business model DESERVES TO DIE. Consider the growth in productivity over the last few decades…..

      • Alwyn 2.1.1

        I find many of your comments interesting and generally I read them and often agree with them
        However – DO YOU HAVE TO SHOUT SO MUCH.

        • lprent

          He has been a bit border line. But not quite enough for me to notice (yet).

          • terryg

            Its just a way of emphasising certain words and/or word groupings. And its only recently that I have learned any HTML (up until last week I couldnt even spell HTML).

            HTML with all its egeregious mathematical symbols is somewhat tedious, whereas my keyboard has both Caps Lock and Shift keys, Thereby Making Capitalisation Both Quick And Easy.

            Corollary: why is writing acronyms such as HTML not read as shouting?

            seriously, my textual “style” (more precisely the lack thereof) is a potentially bannable offense? I have come across some inane rules, but thats dumber than Hillary Calvert. I found no mention of it on the Policy page, but it doubtless causes flamewars, male infertility and the 3rd Intifada.

            aiya…..(pronounced “eye”-“yaaaah” in an even, high tone – Mandarin for WTF?)

            now I’m wondering why I haven’t been harangued for the content of my posts. I presume that hasn’t occurred because my formatting creates sufficiently high levels of nausea as to prevent parsing of the text itself. Either that or the profligate – nay, prolix – dialectical verbosity effectively encrypts the minutiae.

            darling standard readers, please forgive my maliciously egregious formatting. i apologise forthwith, unreservedly and entirely in lower-case. furthermore i deeply regret both the font used and the black-text-on-white-background which, as it maximises energy usage in portable devices, consequently makes me single-handedly responsible for anthropogenic global warming, and therefore the inevitable extinction of both the kea and the kiwi(saver). i am evil personified; crosby-textor wish they could be more like me.

            • lprent

              Corollary: why is writing acronyms such as HTML not read as shouting?

              Just a thing? It looks like there are some conventions. But generally I’d expect that it is so people realize that they are acronyms rather than words.

              seriously, my textual “style” (more precisely the lack thereof) is a potentially bannable offense?

              Your style isn’t particularly, but others definitely are. It is enough that people notice and get tend to get irritated.

              The typical reason for people to use CAPS or bold is to make the words stand out on the page. The reason that it does is that the text is bigger and/or darker than other text. However it also drowns the surrounding text. That makes it hard to scan read large amounts of text.

              Think about it… The average comment writer here will read maybe a hundred or so comments here per day, and frequently quite a lot in other places as well. I’d read maybe 400 or whatever got written that day and a large number on other sites. We do this a lot – in my case slowly increasing over the last 30 years. It doesn’t take long before you find that unduly emphasizing their crap is physically painful because it disrupts your reading flow and react accordingly. The almost standard response on the net is to reeducate whoever is doing it.

              If I find it too painful – I just fix it (because I have edit control) and leave a sarcastic note in bold. If it persists then I will stop expending the effort and ensure that the commentator does not offend my eyes.

              Incidentally I find the same issue reading large amounts of c++ or whatever language I’m working in that week. That is why slickedit comes with pretty reformat utilities that allow me to some pretty dramatic reformatting to my own reading standard (and why I cart around my own editor around in 3 OS versions).

              furthermore i deeply regret both the font used and the black-text-on-white-background

              That was the choice of the theme designer (like the serif font). You don’t have to put up with that yourself. You can use a local CSS in your browsers to override the sites display. I got rid of the serif font that way and put a light grey background on the site. But I don’t insist that everyone else deals with my foibles about light levels and readable fonts.

              • terryg

                Hi Lyn, thanks for the response.
                I was disingenuous in implying I dont read caps as shouting; I of course do. I also shout a fair bit in conversation 😀

                <i>Corollary:</i> yeah, its interesting isnt it.I too dont read it as shouting, ever. brains are fascinating.

                And you and Alwyn are correct – I do overuse that “style”, and I will attempt to moderate my text offending – eventually moderation will become the habit, thereby making shouting and emboldening more powerful (if only embiggening was a word).
                ISTM italics are a lot less visually intrusive, yet serve the purpose  – I’ll use those more in future.

                and code formatting? you have my sympathies. on a daily basis I thank Cthulhu that I havent read C source since 2001 (I never did learn INC, so C++ remains a mystery to me), but I never would have coped without CodeWright and analagous tricks.

                <i>furthermore</i> I was of course just taking the piss, and used it purely for comedic effect as I needed a link to AGW. I consider that paragraph to be one of my better pieces of work, although the ending isn’t quite right (and paraphlagiarises Scott Adams on CVs)

                Oddly enough, the observation is actually correct wrt battery devices – by (getting my daughter to change) the background display on my old ericsson cell phone I got an extra day of run-time out of a charge. it just seems a waste to light up every pixel, so I can then turn a few off *sigh*

                Aesthetically, IMO The Standard is excellent – no problems whatsoever with contrasting colours, and I can actually see bloody hyperlinks (unlike the Grauniad).

                I have no idea what CSS is, let alone what to do with it. you would be astounded at my level of ignorance of most things PC (I wasnt joking re. HTML). Thanks for attempting to educate me, but I’ve once again managed to avoid learning anything (close call but).

                Terry (ostensibly reformed text offender)

      • Webster Rearo 2.1.2

        I agree with a heck of a lot of this.

        I also use similar strategy when voting, considering which least damage primary candidate has the best chance of getting elected.

        And I always have given my party vote to the greens for many of the reasons that you are describing. Although primarily for me I really love the outdoors and don’t want to see our awesome wilderness shat upon and destroyed. Selfish perhaps, but it’s my vote and I will use it how I please 🙂

  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    ‘we can use the crisis to begin the transition to a more sustainable, prosperous, and fair economy.’

    That is clever neuro-linguistic programming that sounds very appealing. It does, however, contain MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE CONCEPTS, and therefore will not work.

    Prosperity is achieved via the looting of natural resources and their conversion into waste. Prosperity is achieved via adoption of unsustainable farming/fishing/manufacturing/transportation practices. Properity is now a historical term, an abberation that was achieved IN THE PAST simply because the extraction of coal and oil increased. With declining fossil fuel extraction, prosperity is over.

    Sustainability is achieved by rapdily abandoning all the practices that lead to prosperity*. However, as the global economy implodes and properity declines worldwide, we should not be surprised to see people demanding ever greater assualts on the environment in futile attempts to prop up their profligate lifestyles in the short term, even if it means a faster fall shortly afterwards. Such is the nature of most humans. Eat the ration now and see what happens.

    * There is plenty of evidence it is now too late to adopt sustainability, since global warming seems to have reached runaway phase. It’s certainly too late with respect to mitigation of the effects of economic and socail collapse due to peak oil.

    • Shane Gallagher 3.1

      Prosperity – we are reclaiming the word so that it does not mean all these things. It means that we “prosper” as individuals, as families, as communities and as a planet.

      Read “Prosperity Without Growth” by Tim Jackson if you want to get a handle on the core concept. But be warned afkt – it has messages of hope and a bright future, so it may upset you! 😉

      • Afewknowthetruth 3.1.1


        I agree that to prosper should mean to have a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, in this society the word is almost 100% associated with money.

        I fail to see how any community or the planet can prosper when the industrial system is looting every resource it can lay its hands on and degrading the environment at an unprecendented (and increasing) rate. Nobody knows how many species we are exterminating every day, but most sources indicate between 20 and 200 per day. Every year the CO2 level in the atmosphere is higher than the previous year, and absolutely nothing gets done to mitigate it.

        Since I have grandchildren, I am ivery nterested in reading scientific data that offers hope for them. Sadky, I haven’t seen ANY data over the past decade that indicates we are not on course for planetary meltdown. ALL the data indicates we ARE on course for planetary meltdown .

        Young people should be rioting in the streets over the way their futures are being destroyed economicallym socially and environmentally. But they’re not. Probably because they continue to be fed BS and messages of hope by most of their elders .

        • MrSmith

          Unfortunately the rioting youth will only attract the scorn of the MSM, “foolish children what would they know”, it’s everyone else that should be yelling there heads off.
          Opening fire on a group of pensioners might get the medias attention……altho I’m not so sure about our media.

          • Afewknowthetruth

            Very true.

            The empire and their cronies at MSM have it all sown up. Anyone who opposes looting the planet and the associated destruction of the natural systems that make life possible is labelled ‘ignorant’ or ‘crazy’.

            That is one of the many reasons why I say there is not much hope for most people of the next generation. ……. though presumably some will get though the first bottleneck [peak oil].

            Whether any will get through the second bottleneck [abrupt climate change/ collapse of the global environment] is looking increasingly doubtful.

            • Shane Gallagher

              AFKTT – well I was at the James Hansen talk tonight in Dunedin (well, helping to fix the damn mess a broken main projector in Otago’s biggest lecture theater caused before having to run off) and there were around a thousand people there to hear him speak.
              We literally ran out of space. People are really starting to listen. And the audience was the full range of ages with a leaning towards the students. That is nearly one percent of the population of Dunedin!

              Anyway – what I am saying is the message is getting out there. There is hope. It is not much hope, but it is there. And it is all we have. I am going to fight for it.

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