What will a Wellbeing Budget look like?

You may remember that the Budget of 2018 would be the last ‘normal’ budget and that the government was going to use a number of benchmarks other than purely fiscal ones in their future budgets.

As there does not appear to be a model anywhere in the world that we can look to for guidance, we have to speculate as to what this new form of ‘budget’ will look like.

Stuff?reported on this back in February. quote:

By?2019, New Zealand would hopefully be the first country to assess bids for budget spending against new measures that determined?not just how our spending will impact on GDP, but also on natural, social, human, and possibly cultural capital too, she said. end quote.

Cultural capital. Remember that.??quote:

“It will no longer be good enough to say a policy is successful because it increases GDP if, at the same time, it also degrades the physical environment, or drives down wages or fractures a community.” end quote.

Oil and gas, anyone? The unilateral culling of the industry will drive down wages and fracture the community in the Taranaki district. Oh, for some consistency from these people.

Newsroom?has published an article in the last few days that may give us some more ideas of what to expect in upcoming budgets. quote:

From now on, basic economic indicators like GDP will be set alongside other, more holistic measurements?which?will ?report, measure and compare the tangible and the intangible?.

His remarks were cautious ? this isn?t the end of GDP, but its days of monopolising public policy discussions are probably over. end quote.

No. It can never be the end of GDP. Because what socialists never acknowledge is that GDP is the foundation for all of their social policies. When the economy is doing well and GDP is high, they can afford to do all the things they keep promising. That is why GDP has to remain the focus of the economy and future budgets. It will become a house of cards otherwise. quote:

Developed by economist Richard Easterlin?in the mid-1970s, the Easterlin paradox describes the point at which rising GDP ceases to translate into greater happiness.

Examples can be found at both ends of the scale. Countries riven by war and poverty would be markedly happier if they could add to their wealth, but the world?s wealthiest country, the United States, faces an epidemic of suicide and opioid addiction ? clear symptoms of rising unhappiness.

The obvious question, then, is how will a Wellbeing Budget fix these problems?

The answer isn?t as antithetical to traditional economics as the headlines may suggest. GDP will still need to rise and Budgets will still be about allocating resources in the most efficient way, which is about as traditional as economics can get.

Only now, indicators like child poverty, quality housing, and environmental sustainability will be used to broaden the Budget?s currently narrow focus. end quote.

Am I missing something here? Child poverty, housing and the environment are NOT currently covered by the annual budget? I think they are.

To stop myself from thinking I was going crazy, I found this very brief overview of the 2018 budget.

The bulk of the funding was going into health, housing and education. And don’t forget, the government had done a mini-budget just before Christmas last year to fast-track its Families Package, which was aimed at reducing ‘child poverty’.

So the Budget already deals with issues such as quality housing, health and child poverty, but its format needs to be changed because ‘indicators like child poverty, quality housing, and environmental sustainability will be used to broaden the Budget?s currently narrow focus’.

So what’s going on? quote:

Activists on the left wing of each party have never quite gotten over the cruelty of Ruth Richardson?s ?Mother of all Budgets? that pitted the pain of benefit?cuts against a plan to restore the government?s finances to surplus. end quote.

‘Activists.’ Beware of those. I hated the Richardson budget too, but it was forced by bad economic times and the need to compensate for the considerable excesses of the Muldoon and Lange governments. Time to move on, surely.

So what else will it mean? quote:

But the wellbeing focus for the Budget allows the Government to take it one step further.

It will make decisions like those taken in the 1990s (unlikely as they already are under a Labour government) almost impossible, and it will also put the cold language of economics a step removed from the Government?s finances ? a key victory for the anti-neoliberal wings which manage to unite all three parties of the current Government. end quote.

Which, translated, may mean… quote:

How, for example, will defence spending stack up? It won?t be easy to justify the $2.3 billion spent on four sub-hunting aircraft against competing demands from health, education and housing. end quote.

The end of our defence forces. We will have to rely on the Australians for our defence needs and Jacinda is currently doing a wonderful job of alienating our closest neighbour. quote:

It?s even more difficult to see how future governments will justify spending on things like sports events. The 2011?Rugby World Cup was given $1.2 billion by the government, in spite of fears it would likely spark an outbreak in domestic violence if the All Blacks lost. end quote.

The end of anything remotely enjoyable. No more sporting events that require a capital injection from the government will be held here. The next America Cup is now at risk. Who wants to support a bunch of wealthy yachties when there is a child who has to share a bedroom somewhere? This presumably will also cover any arts events, or assistance to industries, such as the movie industry. quote:

It?s equally unclear whether a Wellbeing Budget could increase wellbeing or happiness without the Government putting extra money on the table. end quote.

In other words, higher taxation.

So we will all be paying a small fortune in taxation to live in a miserable world. All spending will go on health, education and housing for the poor. Millions will be wasted spent on the environment and ‘cultural’ things (read Maori stuff) but that will be it. Everything else falls by the wayside. And don’t forget, they will be able to tax the living daylights out of things that are not perceived as good for ‘wellbeing’ – alcohol, cigarettes, petrol, overseas trips, movie tickets… these things are not good for you, you know.

The government will have carte blanche to spend on areas that it deems to be important, and they will use this to force a large swathe of the population into total dependency on the state. It will allow them to simply cut out services that they do not want to fund on the basis that they add nothing to the wellbeing of the community. And, of course, the Politburo will decide what is good and what is not. What a perfect world.

It is funny how something that sounds really good initially can be seen to have evil connotations once the veneer is peeled back a little. Wellbeing sounds good. Marxism does not.

But then Karl Marx?believed that capitalism has failed.

Now, where have we heard that before?

 

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