Brand Ardern is about changing perception not reality

Photoshopped image credit: Pixy

ACT leader David Seymour has summed up PM Jacinda Ardern as someone whose Bachelor of Communication Studies degree taught her to change people’s perception of reality rather than reality itself

It is hard to disagree with him given that she led Labour to victory on the exact same policies that Andrew Little was able to gain no traction whatsoever on. In effect, she successfully sold ice to Eskimos when the previous salesperson Little kept getting soundly rejected.

[…] Thursday’s “Wellbeing Budget” will represent little more than stardust over substance.

Ardern is one of the best marketers in world politics, but she is also one of the biggest policy lightweights. She doesn’t care about policy beyond its capacity to further Brand Ardern.

[…] The “Wellbeing Budget” is just spin designed to hide the fact the Government doesn’t know how to raise our living standards or competently deliver core public services. The two are connected, as we’ll see.

When doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, they effectively say: “First, do no harm”. Ardern’s Government could do a lot of good simply by refraining from enacting harmful policies. Industry-wide collective bargaining – “Fair Pay Agreements” – will tie firms up in red tape. Fees-Free and the Provincial Growth Fund tax billions from the productive economy and blow it on low-value spending. KiwiBuild is sucking precious time and effort away from policies that would fix the housing market. The Zero Carbon Bill and oil and gas ban will cut incomes here and drive emissions overseas.

The Government’s flagship policies are not only not helping the economy, they are actively harming it.

Why does a growing economy matter? Well, would you live in a country in which the average person dies at 45? Where most children aren’t vaccinated and don’t go to school? A country in which most people don’t have access to a telephone or electricity and where washing clothes is done by hand? That was New Zealand a little more than 100 years ago.

The difference between then and now is the productivity and economic growth that took place in between.

[…] If we want to be wealthier we need to produce more valuable goods and services each day, week, and year.

[…] Jacinda Ardern dismisses economic growth as a primitive concept, but it matters.

[…] New Zealand isn’t becoming more productive. Over the last five or six years, productivity growth has averaged just 0.3 per cent per year. We have gone from one of the best to one of the worst performers in the developed world.

That is shocking stuff. When I read that I don’t feel a sense of wellbeing, instead I feel quite the opposite.

Low productivity is now being reflected in low growth. GDP per capita grew by 0.1 per cent last December and actually fell by 0.1 per cent three months earlier. Our slow productivity growth means our living standards will decline relative to other countries. As we saw above, the Government has no policies that would reverse this trend.

[…] The Government should be focussed on doing the basics right: delivering quality core public services and regulation. That would really ensure New Zealanders’ wellbeing.