Protectionism favours few, costs many

June 19, 2011

Unions and some of Dunedin’s citizen’s are agitating for KiwiRail to buy new wagons from Hillside Workshop.

Roger Kerr explains what’s wrong with that:

Here we are seeing the same old protectionist fallacy. Assuming KiwiRail has got its numbers right, building rolling stock here at higher cost would mean its customers would face higher prices across the board. They would grow less and create fewer jobs.

Many of the customers would be in the export sector. The badly needed rebalancing of the economy would be hampered. And of course KiwiRail would be an even bigger drain on taxpayers.

More than 20 years after the painful but necessary reforms of the late 1980s and early 90s some people still haven’t got the message – protection favours few and costs many.

This is a lesson Candians have yet to learn too. Dan Gardner writes about Canada’s failure to make the most of its potential for increased food production:

Canadian consumers pay far more for dairy and poultry products than they would in a free market. Supply management also makes it difficult or impossible for producers to achieve the economies of scale needed to drive costs down. Perhaps worst of all, it impedes trade liberalization.

“Our government will also continue to open new markets for Canadian business in order to create good jobs for Canadian workers,” the Conservatives promised in the Speech from the Throne. That’s good. Canada is a trading nation and the steady expansion of free trade is very much in our interest. But then came this: “In all international forums and bilateral negotiations, our government will continue to stand up for Canadian farmers and industries by defending supply management.”

And what’s the affect of supply management?

Who pays? Consumers who often don’t know they are. Who benefits? A small number of farmers who are highly organized and concentrated in certain ridings. Politicians who swear to defend the status quo get the gratitude of the former without incurring the wrath of the latter — while any politician who dares to even consider change gets no gratitude and lots of wrath.

“Look at us,” Larry Martin suggests, “and look at New Zealand, sitting out there in the middle of the ocean, not close to anything.” In the world of food, New Zealand is a “superpower.” And yet, thanks to daring reforms in the 1980s, New Zealand’s farmers owe almost none of their income to government support. “You think, ‘if we could do even half of what they have done wouldn’t we be in great shape?’”

Yes, those “failed” polices of the 80s made our economy freer and are one of the major reasons we’re getting the benefits from increased demand for commodities.

Instead of producing things the world doesn’t want or need at considerable cost to the domestic economy through subsidies, we’re following market signals to produce what the world wants to buy.

Hillside  workers should stop wasting their energy trying to return to the bad old days of protectionism. Instead, they should concentrate on developing the flexibility to produce what someone wants to buy at a price they’re prepared to pay.

KiwiRail is already costing the country too much, we can’t afford to add to those costs by subsidising Hillside.

Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour & Something Should Go Here who both discuss Gardner’s piece.


Did you see the one about

March 20, 2011

Americans call it experience not failure -  Peter Kerr calls for a change in thinking in New Zealand.

Some perspective –  Adolf at No Minister on what kills how many.

There’s glory for you! - Andrew Geddis at Pundit on a legal and literary mixup.

Party manifestos to be displayed in plain packets with government health warnings – Newsbiscuit on new rules for public protection. While there you might also enjoy Pay study shows women now 88% as good as men - a satirical take on pay equity.

Doesn’t work if you’re self employed though –  Something Should Go here Maybe Later on meetings as an alternative to work. While there you should see the footprint of my car will raise a smile.

And congratulations to the Hand Mirror on three years of Hand Mirrorness.


Did you see the one about . . .

October 17, 2010

Undo, cut, tape . . . wait that’s not right - old technology meets new at Something Should Go Here.

Graham Lay on New Zealand English – guest post at  Quote Unquote

My shoes don’t eat meat – Laughy Kate on vegan footwear.

The recession made us poorer - Macdoctor puts the blame where it ought to be.

Silver Ferns turn into golden ferns - RivettingKate Taylor shares her excitement.

Who is punching above their weight - Eye To The Long Run does the numbers on the Australian & New Zealand medal tally.

An alternative to Breakfast - the fifth of Keeping Stock’s daily posts for those missing Paul Henry.

If real wars were like trade wars -Cafe Hayek  shows how silly it all is (Hat Tip Anti Dismal). 

Who should pay for university - Anti Dismal on student loans.


Did you see the one about . . .

September 18, 2010

An email from Matt McCarten - Whale Oil received a thank you from Matt.

It’s not all doom and gloom despite the earthquake and SCF collapse - Beranrd Hickey finds 10 reasons to be cheerful.

Proof: Wellington council wardens are ticketing against council policy – Big News cuaght them at it.

Science explained Something Should Go Here Maybe Later, who’s made a welcome return to blogging, illustrates the differences between biologists.

Milestone for Beattie’s Book Blog – post 10,000 in a little under four years 1311 visitors for the day by lunchtime on the day the post was written.


And then there was one

July 2, 2010

First there was the NZ Blogosphere ranking which is now being done quarterly.

Then there was the Halfdone Rankings but Something Should Go Here has gone.

Now there’s just one monthly ranking: Open Parachute’s NZ Blogs Sitemeter ranking.


Did you see the one about . . .

June 6, 2010

Bring your own basil (and garlic and fresh vegetables) – Brian Edwards on pizza problems.

I’m in love (again!) - Lindsay Perigo has a close encounter of an All Black kind.

An interview with Hone Harawira - Dim Post goes where no blogger has gone before.

Sayonara second class meat  Cactus Kate converts to Japanese beef.

Quote of the day - Anti Dismal sees what entrepreneurs see.

Emissions Tradings goings on - Keeping Stock reminds us what Winston was like.

None so blind - Macdoctor diagnoses a problem in Labour’s caucus.

Police crackdown on speedsters to enter new phase - Zen Tiger at NZ Conservative gets satirical. He’s also asking for people to give a taste of New Zealand to help an overseas reader.

May 10 NZ blogs Sitemeter rankings at Open Parachut and  May Half Done NZ blog stats at Something Should Go Here apropos of which in Further on BOT Kiwiblog suggests a ratings site which uses a bot (whatever that it) to scan blogs and collect the data needed for rankings.


Sometime’s a cigar is only a cigar

May 14, 2010

An MP who had been upset by something John Key had done was at a meeting with him.

The Prime Minister, knowing he wasn’t in his MP’s good books, made a self-depreciating joke about it.

It was exactly the sort of joke he made about not being welcome at a Tuhoe dinner.

Part of his charm is his ability to laugh at himself and I’ve heard him make similar, self depreciating jokes several times.

I am certain that was all he was doing in this instance.

Not everyone sees it that way.

Over at Tumeke! Bomber and Tim think he was referring to cannibalism.  Deborah thinks it was ignorant and offensive.

On the other hand Kiwiblog says his own sense of humour is one reason he’d never be an MP;  Keeping Stock thinks people should lighten up and  was inspired to make a contribution to New Zealand Music Month. Something Should Go Here thinks it was a good joke.

Macdoctor thinks it was a clever but that would mean John was being deliberately offensive and I’m sure he wasn’t.

It was a joke, directed at himself and while I can see how some people might find offensive meaning in it I have no doubt that wasn’t his intent.

Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar but people will always be able to make something else of it.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,400 other followers

%d bloggers like this: