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Short term thinkers

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, September 16th, 2009 - 27 comments
Categories: Environment, maori party, national - Tags:

It never ceases to amaze me what short term thinkers National are. The plan (with the Maori Party) to gut the ETS highlights this issue very starkly. For the sake of short term appeasement of their backers in the polluting industries National are prepared to abandon the much more important long term considerations.  Considerations like the environment.  Lest we forget, the health of the environment is what sustains us all (and the economy too if it comes to that). 

Even putting aside the damage to the environment and the foolishness of covering the costs of pollution with a blank cheque from the taxpayer, even putting those factors aside and thinking purely in business terms, National’s decision on the ETS is foolish short term thinking.   Focused only on the cost of doing something, National completely ignore the much greater cost of doing nothing.  They ignore the costs of the damage to our international image and branding.  They ignore the fact that the ETS creates opportunities as well as costs.

But the stupidest outcome in business terms is the cost of uncertainty. National and Labour were engaged in negotiations which could have reached an enduring bipartisan consensus on carbon emissions. Instead, without even waiting to see if negotiations concluded successfully, National have thrown all that away. Labour have already said that they will revisit this issue the next time they are in government. An excellent Herald editorial sums up:

A bipartisan policy on a subject so important for long-term investment decisions would be a rare and splendid thing, giving all sectors confidence that carbon emission costs would survive the next change of government.

Sadly, those hopes have been dashed. The Maori Party has had a change of heart. The principles it proclaimed in its rider to the select committee’s report appear to have been rescinded.

Relief in those industries will be tempered by the knowledge that the next government is quite likely to reinstate economic sense. That likelihood already makes investment decisions difficult. Such is the folly of National’s failure to embrace a bipartisan approach.

The failure to seize this bipartisan opportunity was not John Key’s finest hour, as may be evident in years ahead. 

I’m used to a government that thinks ahead. Labour set in place long term planning for the future, the Cullen fund and KiwiSaver. Labour spent nine years reducing government debt in preparation for the next financial downturn – which inevitably came. Labour hammered out a workable consensus on the ETS trying to avoid an environmental disaster – which will (if we continue on this path) inevitably come. In contrast the current government seem completely incapable of long term planning.   National are narrow, short term thinkers, and it’s a disaster for New Zealand.

27 comments on “Short term thinkers ”

  1. lprent 1

    My natural inclinations are towards the centre-right. I’m mostly an economic dry, work exclusively in high-tech export based industries, post-university I’ve never had any any money from the government and pay high taxes for NZ.

    But I’ve never supported a right party. The reason is that the right parties here are fundamentally stupid short-term thinkers. They seem to have the same kind of time-frames as business planning, 3 to 5 years. Problem is that most of the process of government is long-term with decade long plans. It is there to cover the many medium and long-term failings of a market model.

    National in particular seems too stupid in my opinion to ever do well in government. To date I’ve never been disappointed.

    • rainman 1.1

      So here’s the question (to which I don’t know the answer):

      Is this an attribute of the NZ National Party, the NZ right in general, or right-wing groups in general? If the first, is there room for a party of the intelligent right? Who comes closest?

  2. BLiP 2

    Your headline is misleading – it implies that anyone in the National Ltd government actually thinks.

  3. ieuan 3

    Yep, I have to agree with you on this.

    National does seem to make decisions only looking at the short to medium term. The suspension of contributions to the Cullen fund is another good example and the fact that changes to pensions are ‘not up for discussion’ (or however Key put it) when it is clear to everyone that some hard decisions need to be made sooner or later.

  4. Clarke 4

    I agree with lprent on this one … the problem is not short-term government thinking so much as short-term business thinking that filters through to the politicians they’ve purchased.

    Business doesn’t need more “certainty” to start dealing with climate change. It’s been obvious since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 that there would be a price on carbon, yet far too many businesses have failed to plan for the day when it finally occurs. And it’s equally predictable that the price of carbon will rise over the medium to long term, yet I’m sure there are plenty of strategic planning spreadsheets that incorporate a fixed cost of carbon into the indefinite future.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    I see that some of those in the inner sanctum of global warming theory are starting to doubt its validity:


    Quoting specifically from the article:

    “Latif predicted that in the next few years a natural cooling trend would dominate over warming caused by humans. The cooling would be down to cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the North Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

    Breaking with climate-change orthodoxy, he said NAO cycles were probably responsible for some of the strong global warming seen in the past three decades. “But how much? The jury is still out,” he told the conference. The NAO is now moving into a colder phase.”

    According to Latif, quite a lot of the warming was due to natural cycles. He is just not sure how much. If that is the case, then the amount of warming attributed to global warming phenomena might be exaggerated.

    • BLiP 5.1

      More denialist propaganda. Why don’t you quote what Latif actually said instead of some half-informed journo looking for a scoop?

      First a bit of background: Pearce’s story was written about a recent climate summit: the World Climate Conference-3. Part of the summit was dedicated to Advancing Climate Prediction Science; Latif’s presentation was concerned with decadal-scale climate predictions- concerning not only their potential value and viability but also the significant challenges that remain before we can make useful ones.

      . . . snip . . .

      While this might be surprising for some readers, let’s be clear: This is not “new’ information. This does not represent a “shake up’ of the climate science community’s understanding of the system, or a blow to “settled science’. This is acknowledged in the IPCC’s most recent Assessment Report (AR4 WG1 8.3 and 9.4) as well as in the relevant primary literature.

    • Galeandra 5.2

      Well, if Latif’s right, won’t we be lucky!! We’ve enjoyed a huge and wasteful consumption party, but maybe won’t have to clean up the place in the morning. Of course, we’ve gobbled up a lot of next week’s groceries, but aw, what th’ heck.

      Or in other words, so what?

  6. tc 6

    This is a classic short term thinking gov’t, you’ve got the flat earth ACT party, the ‘we get limo’s, bigger offices and whine about how Labour didn’t love us enough’ Maori party, and party of 1 Dunne…..hardly a world beating combination bristling with future proof stratgey/policy.
    More like a trough fest where they dish out as many benefits to big business as they can especially those lovely folk at Rio Tinto who just can’t afform the emissions so the taxpayer can pick it up from their smelter.
    What do you expect from the former currency trader …….a long term vision, get real, JK’s a puppet with Sir doug and others pulling his strings.
    Nice to see the media finally letting the intellect out for a run on this one whilst TVNZ in the 10.30 slot last night didn’t even cover it even with the fiery pictures from parliament….can’t upset anyone before bed by provoking thought now can we or upset our SOE bosses.

    • Swampy 6.1

      The Left want NZ to become a basket case just so Helen Clark could use her political career as a stepping stone to the UN. They force through these ideological policies, there is no need for NZ to be a “leader” way out in front because the difference it will make to climate change is miniscule, the damage to our economy and our way of life will be much more massive.

      • Maynard J 6.1.1

        She already is in the UN you munter.

        Good theory. Come up with it all by yourself, or is the latest brainwave of the VRWC?

  7. randal 7

    the more natoinal does deals like these the quicker their demise will be. My guess is only keys has a personal exit strategy the rest will go back to being yesterdays men just like they they were before the right wing media pumped them up with ritalin and blew their minds out ina car. they didnt notice that the lights had changed. bye bye woger woger and wodney your time is nearly up

  8. toad 8

    Just how duplicitous can the Maori Party get? Compare what they said in their minority Select Committee report, with what they’ve actually signed up to.

  9. tc 9

    Spot on Randal…..JK will have a seat being warmed for him by their business backers whilst oblivion awaits ACT as either way Wodney will not win Epsom ever again. As for Maori…they have a place but not with the pathetic/inept/self serving Turei/Sharples who have sold out for the comfy seats and MP limo’s.
    This gov’t is a classic style/spin/sellout over substance………if they win in 2011 it’ll be as a result of a poor campaign from the opposition….they only won because Labour lost the plot in 2008 on the run in anyway and not by much.

  10. Bill 10

    On the one hand we have market disciples and on the other a climate reality that flat stick contradicts their belief.

    They will prove that their market ideas are correct by riding the market to the bitter end while denying any intrusive corrective measures vis a vis climate because that would be messing with their god.

    And the market acolytes have well and truly captured the political arena of western social democracies. They are the pipers to who every and all else dances.

    So, meaningful climate action is not going to stem from any policy hatched by the politicians of our social democracies because our politicians are dancing to well, I already sad who..

    Meaningful action on climate will only eventuate from a surge in expressions of democracy/ civil disobedience. You and me and the streets and an upping of the anti to the point where the cost of pursuing their present policies attracts more downside cost for government personnel and institutions than does caving to popular democratic demands is probably the only option left.

    • BLiP 10.1

      I couldn’t agree more. How wonderful to see Greenpeace back in action. Bollocks to the politicians!

      • Bill 10.1.1

        Aye. Nice to see some direct action, not that direct action is the only available instrument in a citizens tool box.

        And, never been a great fan of Greenpeace, but that aside I think you should have linked to their press release where some hard facts pertaining to the issue are available, rather than to the vacuous corporate media fudge which gives more time and space to Fonterra than Greenpeace and allows them to further perpetuate their misleading b/s.

        • Swampy

          LOL. Greenpeace are extremists and their methods reflect the fact that the public at large ignore their radical views.

  11. Macro 11

    I agree with you rOb that on the whole National can only ‘think” short term – they are conditioned to that by the fixation with short term “goals” – a hobby of the “objectivized” work place. But I think the real problem with those in both Labour and National and the ETS in particular, is the underlying belief that we can still plod along with “business as usual” and a little tinkering here and there is all that’s required and who knows it might all go away. I include the majority of NZers because sadly there really has been very little education of the general public on the impending chaos that is looming. Yes there is the occasional story about drought or floods and sea water rising glaciers disappearing etc etc but as far as the msm are concerned, reporting on climate change is really about the gamesmanship of the sides involved.
    So its no wonder that our politicians take such a “hands off” approach to the problem. They think that Global Warming really doesn’t affect them, and they are generally as ill-informed as the general population. Sure some have sat in a select committee – mostly with their own agendas – but the majority have to find out like every one else.
    Until the signs are staring us in the face (and for the informed they already are); until the water is lapping on the steps of parliament, we can expect little real action. And by then of course it will be too late.

    • Maynard J 11.1

      I always thought Humanity’s epitaph was going to be “We were trying to do the right thing!”

      But you have just enlightened me, Macro. It will be:

      “But nobody told us!”

    • Bill 11.2

      Hands up for NW passage or the passing of thousands of years of stable/predictable climate!?
      For Alpine snow coverage or skiing industry!?
      Catastrophic crop failure or ‘Indian summer’!?
      Half baked ideas of profits flowing from speculative carbon bubble or democracy rearing it’s unpredictable head and the streets delivering a swift kick in the nads to the whole affair?

  12. luva 12

    You have claimed Labour’s long term plan of bringing down debt (which followed the precedent set by National in the late 1990’s) as long term planning for the fututre.

    For the very same reason the current government is reluctant for quick fixes to the recession, e.g massive government borrowing. They are looking at the long term and do want to leave the next generation with a considerable debt.

    They are borrowing but only to a level which is absolutle necessary.

    A short term option would be increase government spending by borrowing excessivley. Something many from the left advocate.

  13. Zaphod Beeblebrox 13

    And their plan is??????

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