Written By: - Date published: 6:46 am, December 15th, 2018 - 12 comments
Categories: Amy Adams, Economy, grant robertson, labour, national, paula bennett, Politics, Simon Bridges - Tags: GDP, gross domestic product
The Government has announced that the next budget will have wellbeing objectives, as well as financial objectives.
Good move. We should be measuring more than just the country’s financial performance when we take stock each year. Like how many kids are living in poverty. And how much greenhouse gasses we are producing. Things that really matter.
Grant Robertson has described the changes in these terms:
Each year, the Government will be required to set out how its wellbeing objectives, together with its fiscal objectives, will guide its Budget and fiscal policy.
“To support this, the Treasury will be required to report on current and future wellbeing outcomes at least every four years. “
‘ Future governments will have flexibility to decide on their own wellbeing objectives, but will be required to explain how each Budget will contribute to those objectives.”
The idea reminded me of Robert Kennedy’s soaring rhetoric from 1968 when talking about the value of GDP:
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
The Government’s announcement has resulted in some not so soaring rhetoric from Simon Bridges:
National Party leader Simon Bridges said he didn’t see how a “bunch of a hundred fluffy wellbeing indicators” would improve New Zealanders’ lives.
“I’m personally cynical. We’ve got a government at the moment that’s taxing a whole heap more – about $17 billion more over the next four years – they’re wasting money all over the place.”
We all want our political representatives to have convictions and beliefs. Don’t we?
And Amy Adams has said this:
I think Grant is overstating the fact that this is some new focus. The country, the Government, has always measured these things and has always cared about how New Zealanders are doing. That’s the ultimate measure for any government.”
Although I would have to question the accuracy of what she said:
The other headline, that the tax take will increase by $17 billion over four years is good news. There is now head room to settle the teachers’ salary claim.
The result of course belies National’s claim that the economy is floundering under Labour. This result suggests the economy is doing fine.