Should single and childless be paid less?

October 11, 2013

If $18.40 is considered to be a “living wage” for a family, should the single and childless be paid less?

Trans Tasman says:

Employers and Manufacturers Association CEO Kim Campbell has exposed fundamental flaws in the campaign launched by the Anglican Family Centre for a so-called “living wage.” The Anglican proposal of $18.40 gross per hour applies to an average family of 2 adults and 2 children, with one adult working fulltime and one working half-time. Their pay at this rate includes Govt payments such as Working for Families, accommodation supplements, and childcare assistance. Campbell says on this basis many people whose pay is currently based on $15 or $16 an hour already qualify as receiving a “living wage.”

Other groups appear to back the payment of $18.40 gross an hour with the welfare and support payments paid as well. If the top-ups are included the “average family” would receive the equivalent of over $20 gross an hour each. Another fundamental problem with the system proposed by the Anglican Family Centre for low paid workers being paid according to their family circumstances is totally different from the way everyone has been paid for their work.

“People are paid for their work, not for the size of their family. If $18.40 an hour was set as the right amount for a family of 4 with 1½ pay packets, a different rate would be needed for, say, a family of 6 with 1 pay packet, or a 2-person-2 income household, or a single person with 2 jobs. Calculating the many different ‘living wages’ would be a nightmare.” . . .

It would be iniquitous to pay people less because they needed less to support the sort of lifestyle a ‘living wage’ is predicated on.

But is it any better to pay people more than the job they do is worth because their needs, which have nothing at all to do with their work, are greater?

New Zealand would be better off if all wages and salaries were higher but increases must be based on what the work is worth not an artificial construct of what’s needed.


Green’s not for growth

May 3, 2013

The Green party is soliciting funds for its election campaign with an email that says:

 . . . National’s policies of more mining, weakening environmental protections, poor economic management and growing inequality are not the recipe for a fair society and a better future.

 In contrast to National, we have the ideas to deliver a richer New Zealand. . .

Green is supposed to be the colour of growth but these Greens are really reds promoting the policies that have failed in the past.

Take their plan to bring down the exchange rate. Prime Minister John Key says currency intervention and printing money won’t work:

. . . “It didn’t work very well for Argentina, or Venezuela or Zimbabwe and it could never be done in New Zealand at the sort of magnitude we’ve seen in the United States,” said Key.

As for the New Zealand dollar versus its United States counterpart, Key used a seesaw analogy.

“It’s a bit like being a seesaw and if I weigh 85 kilos and you weigh 170 kilos, I’m going to go up when you sit on the seesaw and you’re going to go down. And that’s really the situation we’ve got at the moment.”

“We kind of weigh 85 kilos and the United States weights 850 tonnes. Right up to this point it (the US) has been very unwell. It has got everything from aids to bird flu. It has really been pretty unwell so the market’s just massively adjusting what they’re doing.”

When people say the Reserve Bank should be printing money, Key said you wouldn’t do that with base rates – the Official Cash Rate – at 2.5%.

“All you do is cut interest rates for a start off. The second thing was even if you printed money, it’s never going to work. I think they’ve printed US$5.5 trillion in the US. I mean it’s massive. So what would we print? NZ$50 billion or something? It wouldn’t make an iota of difference.”

“So my view would be I know we want to get the exchange rate down and I know it’s hurting a lot of companies. But it’s a cycle you’re going to have to ride through and all the Government can do is control the things that are in our control. So get out there and reform the Resource Management Act, make sure we don’t spend too much money, make sure we keep pressure off interest rates, manage the place well,” Key said. . . .

The reds want to increase the burden of government, their policies will lead to higher interest rates and they haven’t a clue about good economic management.

. . . Furthermore, he said intervention in the currency markets never works.

Here Key cited an example from his previous career at Merrill Lynch, where at one time he was head of global foreign exchange. One of Merrill Lynch’s biggest clients was the Bank of Japan, which used to intervene in the currency markets through Merrill Lynch.

“To tell you how bad it got, one night we were sitting there and the Bank of Japan rang up and the US$-yen was about 90 or something and they didn’t want it to go down lower. And the guy said to me ‘I want you to start buying dollars at 90′. And I said ‘how many do you want me to buy’, and he said ‘well, I’m going out for three hours so I’ll give you a yell when I get home.’ And I said ‘yeah, but how many do you want me to buy?’ And he said ‘I’m going out for three hours, don’t you understand the conversation?’

“I bought US$4.5 billion in three hours. He said ‘where is it (the US dollar-yen exchange rate)’ and I said ‘it’s 90, you bought US$4.5 billion. And he said ‘ah, well I’m off to bed now give me a ring in the morning’,” said Key.

“It never worked, it just never worked. I don’t know how much money they lost on intervention but it was massive.” . . .

Who do you believe – someone who has worked in international finance and has managed the country through the global financial crisis or people who want to print money and whose power policy would have a chilling effect on on private investment? Rob Hosking writes:

. . . There is something essentially frivolous about anyone who would cheerfully rip up the value of some of the country’s largest firms, and the value of the investment in those firms, simply for a political positioning exercise.

This is why the exchange caught by TV3 between Green energy spokesman Gareth Hughes and party spin zambuck Clint Smith was so telling.

For those who missed it, Mr Hughes was asked if the party was pleased at the reaction: Mr Hughes paused, turned to Mr Smith and asked “Hey, Clint – are we pleased?”

It was telling that he even had to ask.

But the almost palpable glee coming out of the Green and Labour camps at the destructive impact of their policy is highly revealing. 

It underlines – not for the first time – the problem with the makeup of both parties. They are dominated at the MP and the staff level by the sub-genus homo politicus.

That is, they are full of people who have done nothing in their lives apart from politics. All parties have a complement of this group, but with Labour and the Greens the group has reached critical mass.

This group has been involved in politics at university, moved from there to various political/union offices and then into parliament. 

There is little real world experience and everything is viewed through a very narrow prism of political advantage.

It’s the sort of attitude which means the value destruction seen this week can be just laughed off.

There will, unless we are careful, be more such frivolous policies to come.

I would use a far stronger word than frivolous and the business community certainly isn’t taking it lightly.

In an open letter to LabourGreen they say the policy would harm jobs, growth and investment, causing interest rates to rise, reducing KiwiSaver retirement savings and making people less well off.

. . .Business shares your concerns about constantly rising power prices and their impact on our global competitiveness. Businesses and consumers work hard every day to minimise their spending on electricity in order to stay in business and

to make their household budgets stretch further.
However, we do not think that electricity policies based on subsidies and greater state control are the right answers. Such policies have been tried in the past and have been shown to be incapable of meeting the challenges of a modern economy
with a complex, real-time electricity market.
 
Putting aside the sheer complexity of their implementation, policies that protect businesses from the full costs of the inputs they use ultimately dull the incentive to innovate and make them less, not more internationally competitive. Reducing retail
prices below the full marginal cost of production encourages households to use more than they should.
Of particular concern with the policies announced is their chilling effect on investment across the entire economy.
 
We are especially concerned at investment analyst reports noting the potential for $1.4 billion of shareholder value to be wiped off the books of the private power companies. A similar amount, if not more, will come off the value of the public power companies.
 
 
Capital destruction on such a scale will severely undermine business confidence.
It sends signals to investors, on whom the New Zealand economy relies, that their wealth and the benefits it provides are not welcome.
 
Investment plans and job creation opportunities are foregone.
 
Rather than remote and intangible, this dampening of investment intentions will have a direct and real economic impact on those of all walks of life who seek to accumulate wealth by working hard to save, invest and grow. It causes interest rates
to rise, depletes retirement savings held in KiwiSaver accounts and means that other economic opportunities such as first homes are foregone and new business ventures as savings are unexpectedly reduced.
 
Individuals are less well-off as a result.
 
With the good of all New Zealanders in mind we ask you to withdraw these damaging policies. We offer to work with you in increasing public understanding of the operation of the electricity market and in ensuring consumers, both small and large,
have better choice from one of the increasingly competitive electricity markets in the world.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 Phil O’Reilly Chief Executive BusinessNZ
 
Ken Shirley Chief Executive Officer Road Transport Forum
 
Catherine Beard Executive Director Manufacturing NZ
 
Ralph Matthes Executive Director Major Electricity Users Group
Chris Baker Chief Executive Straterra

John Scandrett Chief Executive Officer Otago Southland  Employers’ Association

Raewyn Bleakley Chief Executive  Business Central–Wellington

Kim Campbell Chief Executive EMA

Peter Townsend Chief Executive CECC

Michael Barnett Director  New Zealand Chambers of Commerce

These people represent people who employ people, the ones who need certainty and confidence to make investment that creates jobs, earn export income and pay taxes.

These are people who work in the real world.

They know there’s nothing funny about bad policy that would take the country backwards, cost jobs and make us all poorer.

They know that Green isn’t for growth and it doesn’t mean go.

Green economic policy is bright red and it will mean stop to economic growth and job creation.


TPP – threat or opportunity?

December 9, 2012

Is the TPP a threat to democracy?:

Almost three quarters of a million people around the world have signed an online petition that brands the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement a “threat to democracy” and a “corporate takeover”. . . .

“Many hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have sent a blunt message to politicians and corporations who tout the TPPA as a model for the 21st century that it does not represent not their 21st century”, said Jane Kelsey, who has been asked to present the petition to the negotiators. . .

Or is it of seminal importance for jobs?:

The Trans Pacific Partnership is of seminal importance for developing job opportunities in New Zealand, says Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association.

But alongside our ongoing struggle to win access for our agricultural products we need a completely separate work stream dealing with intellectual property, Mr Campbell said.

“It is evident that in terms of the TPP, intellectual property is a complicated rat’s nest full of ambiguity and vested interests,” he said.

“Well-resourced groups have the capacity to subvert the TPP process if we are not most careful to ensure it is robust and enduring.

“Hence the need for caution and precision over the agreement’s terms and conditions.

“New Zealand business will be paying close attention to the details of this part of the agreement because tomorrow’s globally integrated business world will be driven by intellectual property.

“And we are 100 per cent committed to New Zealand negotiating a high quality TPP agreement for the job opportunities and economic growth prospects it can undoubtedly deliver.”

Business NZ sees the importance of the TPP for people:

The Trans Pacific Partnership will help build more successful communities, says BusinessNZ.

Speaking at the Trans Pacific Partnership Forum in Auckland today, BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said the TPP has the potential to raise living standards around New Zealand.

“This trade agreement goes beyond the 20th Century approach of simply seeking to reduce tariffs and border restrictions.

“It recognises the fact that industry now relies on complex supply and value chains involving producers in many different locations and countries. New Zealand is deeply involved in many international value chains and the TPP will enable more New Zealand businesses to trade more effectively in more countries, and that means increased growth and more jobs for New Zealanders.

“The particular value of the Trans Pacific Partnership is that it involves many of the fastest growing economies on earth. Economic growth in the Asia Pacific region is surging and the TPP will help unlock that growth for New Zealand’s benefit.

“It’s appropriate that New Zealand’s negotiators are focused on protecting and advancing our interests including public health, intellectual property, the environment, and the Treaty of Waitangi, and success in these areas will mean a high-quality trade deal that is sustainable in the long term,” Mr O’Reilly said. . .

Both sides of this argument are right about the need for caution over some of the details.

But one side is anti-trade in general and using that bias to oppose the TPP in its entirety.

The other realises the importance of trade for maintaining and creating work opportunities here and earning the export income which will support the first world economy and society to which we aspire.


Alternatives to meddling with exchange rate

September 21, 2012

Meddling with the exchange rate isn’t a panacea for the world’s woes, Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association chief executive Kim Campbell says.

He says many of the factors influencing the dollar’s values are largely out of our control.

“The things that are in our control include re-examining how central and local government can avoid adding to inflationary pressures,” says Mr Campbell.
Examples are:
* Freeing up the supply of land at local government level to make building a house more affordable.

* Ensuring tax policy takes account of its impact on monetary policy. For example, any new government spending should be assessed for its impact, both short-term and longer term, on inflation.

* Introducing a Regulatory Responsibility Act to improve the quality of regulation.
* Reducing government and private sector debt where appropriate (high debt drives up interest rates as lenders demand a risk premium) – we need to stay the course.

These are far more likely to help and less likely to have nasty consequences than meddling with the exchange rate.

 


Good for unions bad for employees/ers

October 19, 2011

Labour’s work and wages policy takes employment relations back decades.

Over at Keeping Stock, Inventory 2 puts a very strong case against raising the minimum wage to $15.

None of our employees is on the minimum wage but, as I2 says, increasing it will put pressure on other wages.

It’s a policy which will discourage the employment of the young, unskilled and inexperienced, as will ending the 90 day trial period for new employees.

We employed a manager earlier in the year. She came well recommended but we had some reservations about how well she’d cope with the job. She agreed to a 90-day-trial period, proved herself and we confirmed the position as permanent.

Had we not been able to give her a trial we wouldn’t have employed her.

The policy also includes Industry Standard Agreements which will take us back 50 years.

We don’t need backward looking policies like the one today on industrial relations from the Labour Party, says Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association.

“The Industry Standard Agreements policy is a one size fits all approach that would take us back to 1960’s,” Mr Campbell said.

“People sitting in Wellington can’t decide what’s good for businesses and their employees in Invercargill and Kaitaia. It simply doesn’t work.

“Business wants to work to build an exciting future for all New Zealanders and we all want to get on with it.

“We want to focus on increasing productivity and attracting more investment to lift our business performance.

“But no matter how its dressed up this policy takes us back to system of national awards and it would undermine all the progress made towards flexible workplaces. . .

Kiwiblog has a graph of stoppages and work days lost to strikes which illustrates the danger of returnign to the bad old days.

The policy is pay-back for the financial support unions give the party.

It might be good for unions but it will increase costs without increasing productivity which will be bad for employees and employers.


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