|Last Updated: Mar 25th, 2013 - 16:46:15
Long Thought for the Day
Most of the world today has a very high standard of living which is a result of economic growth. When it comes to understanding what causes economic growth we are in the advantageous position of being able to observe many nations around the world as they struggle to get economic growth. Some succeed and some fail.
New Zealand has recently failed and instead of moving up to the top half of the OECD rich list we have moved down two more places to the edge of the bottom quarter; A dismal failure of political strategy.
China is a country that lost 30 million people to starvation only 50 years ago. Now look at her! This transformation occurred because Deng Xiaoping believed that “to be rich is glorious”, and he set about getting a country full of rich people. He achieved this by unleashing the potential of the people themselves. China had suffered from socialism for 50 years and it was very obvious that having a big central bureaucracy instructing everyone on how to live their lives was not working. So Deng Xiaoping reduced the bureaucracy and encouraged the people to run their own lives. He did this by allowing them to keep more of what they each earned. He did not have a grand plan for everything. He understood that people, given the choice, will look for ways to improve their lot and in so doing they will provide goods and services that others will buy. And that is the essence of an economy.
So let the people do more for themselves and stand back. Look at China today. Freeing the people has created somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 millionaires in China today; from none 30 years ago. One generation of hard work did this. Hard work and the understanding that people could get to keep the fruits of their own labour.
Unfortunately New Zealand is going the wrong way. We don’t like millionaires. We chase them away with higher taxes, more regulation and government control, and the belief by politicians that they can control the economy so that people get richer. The big lesson to learn by observing all the other countries is that more government control means less private enterprise and that means less wealth. That means EVERYONE is poorer.
Wealth is generated by private enterprise. The person who starts a small business and makes a living and perhaps a small profit is creating wealth. With that wealth they can build a house to live in and buy cars and TV sets to enjoy. A whole lot of people running small businesses creates lots of wealth – and lots of jobs which means that everybody who is prepared to work and save can be wealthy. How this happens is so simple that people don’t stop to think about it. An economy is the sum total of people exchanging goods and services for money and money for goods and services; all on a voluntary basis. Each voluntary exchange happens because one party prefers the money and the other party prefers the service or the goods – so the exchange is made. This is a voluntary exchange and benefits both parties. The reason I can say this so categorically is that if one of the parties felt that they were not benefitting from the exchange they would agree to the transaction.
So an economy consists of people making voluntary exchanges of goods, services and money to everyone’s benefit. COMPLETELY WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE!
Now consider the government. How does it get the money it wants? Through compulsion on pain of fine or imprisonment. Kings of old did it this way. Emperors did it this way. Dictators and despots do it this way. Democratic politicians do it this way. There is no voluntary exchange.
The money taken by government can be divided into two bags. One bag is spent back into the country to create infrastructure which enables the private sector to more easily conduct their transactions. The other bag is spent on being the government; running parliament and a myriad of government departments. This second bag is a cost to the economy to be borne by everyone and subtracts from our wealth.
The vanity of politicians is to think that by their efforts they cause the wealth of the nation to rise. The evidence is that more effort by politicians causes private enterprise to shrink and wealth to be less than it otherwise would be. If we could only persuade governments to reduce in size and leave us alone we would all be better off. Remember the referendum where 84% of the population wanted to have 99 politicians instead of 120 politicians? 84% of us know that we are top heavy with a “head office” trying to control everything and that just like a company, we would be better off with the smallest possible “head office” overhead. Did the politicians accept this advice? Does the turkey vote for Xmas?
Now must be the time for compulsory referendums.
We do need infrastructure, policing and justice and we do need to defend the shores. Nobody will deny that. There is a question of whether it is best done by government or by private enterprise. Roads could be built by private enterprise and tolls charged for their use. This would have the benefit of getting roads where they were really needed. After all, private enterprise is not going to build a road just to please some voters who might vote a politician back into power. Money and effort goes voluntarily goes into supplying just what is needed.
I have seen a good argument put forward for justice by private enterprise. Judges got paid for judging by the parties involved. If they showed bias then future parties would use their services. So we get unbiased judgements. It would work just like independent arbitrators work now.
But we don’t need to spend much time in looking at justice defence and infrastructure. We could do ourselves a great benefit by removing all other parts of government. This would free up a large number of intelligent people who could participate in the real world and just by working to provide a real service that is in demand (indicated by people being willing to pay for it) they would boost the wealth of the nation.
And if we had very low taxes and could hire people more easily and with less risk, this would encourage all these new entrepreneurs to plough back the profits and build up their businesses with the thought perhaps of growing the enterprise to the stage of selling on the world market. Just like Hell Pizza! And if our taxes were really low then there would be a could case for the enterprise to stay with their Head Office in New Zealand. This is how to build wealth for all New Zealanders. Less government, low taxes, maximum freedom for the individual and the economy will just naturally flourish.
Aug 13, 2008, 11:51
Thought for the Day
If interest rate cuts are all that is needed to cause problems (economic bubbles) and then solve them, then this brings up the philosophy of Homer Simpson, who famously said that, "Alcohol [is both] the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems."
Feb 14, 2008, 14:53
Rescue for German Bank Aims to Avoid Crisis in Confidence
Paper money printed from thin air by western governments continues to "vanish" back from whence it came. The banks rely on the Central Bank to provide more cash when they run out. The Central Banks and the politicians must keep the money machine going or face a recession in the economy.
Germany is now facing this dilemma.
Feb 15, 2008, 08:27
Japan Is The Next Sub-prime Flashpoint
America is sneezing, Britain and France seems to have caught a chill, Spain and Italy have a cough but China and India are booming. Is the world thriving on the Asian miracle or is the "paper money bust" just about to spread all round?
How will New Zealand cope? Is the bottom falling out of the property market? Will Michael's tax cuts save us?
All will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Feb 13, 2008, 15:57
Does Neuroscience Support Austrian Theory?
We have been enjoying a property bubble with houses doubling in price (though the value is probably just the same) and it looks like this lovely picnic is about to come to an end. At least all the pundits in the news industry are saying so.
How do people think and react during this boom/bust scenario? Neuroscience and the Austrian economic theories are examined to see if they agree or diverge in their assessment of what is happening to people during these turbulent times.
Feb 11, 2008, 14:45
Chain of Fools
Economic action is driven by incentives. Governments should understand that when they run a fiat currency and generate money from thin air that perverse incentives will spring into action.
What will our fate be?
Feb 9, 2008, 13:24
OPEC Considers Switch to Euro Pricing
This puts even more pressure on the US$. OPEC should think very carefully about exchanging their "black gold" for paper money. They must realise that Western Central Banks are inflating their currencies by 10% or more and that China is at 20% and Russia at 50%.
What will happen if they demand "yellow gold" in exchange for their "black gold"? Will the world convert to gold money again?
Feb 9, 2008, 12:57