Real Issues Blog

Doing more with less

Kieran Madden
24 May 16

New Zealand has a productivity problem. For decades, we’ve each been putting in more hours than most other OECD countries, but producing relatively fewer products and services for our labour. "Productivity isn’t everything,” said Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, “but in the long run it is almost everything.” + more

Our dwindling middle life

Danielle van Dalen
17 May 16

With a single glance at our smartphones we know about the lives of of our ‘friends and followers,’ through messaging and Skype we stay connected with close friends and families from anywhere in the world. With the rise of these “self-selecting” channels of communication, it seems that our connection with a third group—our local community—has been lost.+ more

“Hopeless” Kiwis

Kieran Madden
02 May 16

“A lot of the Kiwis that are meant to be available [for farm work] are pretty damned hopeless. They won’t show up. You can’t rely on them.” Responding to questions about increasing migrant workers on farms, these words got Deputy Prime Minister Bill English into hot water recently with the Opposition and unions. Labour claimed the Government was “writing off a whole generation of New Zealanders.”+ more

Facing the Pied Piper

Julian Wood
26 April 16

The most valuable export that most regions have is not logs, milk, or animal meat. It is their young people. The New Zealand population is ageing; our age dependency ratio (percentage of the population who are children or over retirement age) is 53 percent and climbing.+ more

Connecting communities with help

Jeremy Vargo
20 April 16

Housing is at the core of so much of the need in Lisa Woolley's community: if you don't have a secure and healthy home for your family, other problems are amplified by that stress. But a house isn't a cure-all; Lisa and her team see their housing as a safe place for the necessary next steps of ongoing social work to occur. Each family in their housing has a dedicated social worker responsible for getting to know that particular family, and figuring out what else they might need in order to thrive.+ more

Values and voting

Alex Penk
01 April 16

So why are evangelicals voting for Trump? Actually, it turns out that they’re not, or at least not the way you’ve been told. Someone’s counted as an evangelical if they say they are, but that doesn’t distinguish between nominal and practising evangelicals. In fact, when "evangelicals" are limited to those who actually hold evangelical beliefs, or say they attend church frequently, they are less likely to vote for Trump. + more

Minimum wage opportunities

Julian Wood
21 March 16

Low wage jobs are squeezed out of the market as the minimum wage continues to increase. This is bad news for our job market, as many low wage jobs are crucial entry points for people who are just starting out. As a young man I delivered pamphlets, then newspapers, then progressed to work at the supermarket. I learned a lot. While I knew I was at the bottom of the wage ladder, I had been given a shot to learn about what it meant to be productive.+ more

Living Wage disputes

Kieran Madden
07 March 16

Last week, the Government announced that the minimum wage will soon rise by 50 cents to $15.25/hour, higher than the 25 cent rise predicted by most. Not to be outdone, an hour later the Living Wage campaigners increased their figure by 55 cents to $19.80/hour. Many have taken this opportunity to argue that the Living Wage should be the minimum wage. This would be a massive mistake. + more

Disagreeing well

Alex Penk
19 February 16

I remember listening to Justice Scalia giving a lecture at Auckland University when I was a shiny-eyed law student, and watching as my classmates flung themselves into verbal combat with him, somehow entertaining the remarkable idea that they would topple this giant of the common law world with an argument that he’d never even thought of before. Justice Scalia quickly eviscerated the opinions, but he left the students intact. + more

Free tertiary policy lacks precision

Julian Wood
12 February 16

Labour is proposing to return to the halcyon days of basically free course costs with a policy that is aimed at helping workers reskill to meet the job market,.. Their zero-fee policy would allow every New Zealander three years of fee free study—only if Labour gets three terms in government—available at any stage of life. It is estimated this will cost the taxpayer an additional $1.2 billion dollars when fully implemented. + more

Checking our goals

Julian Wood
07 December 15

New Zealand is a rich country where a lot of households struggle to make ends meet. Findings from the Statistics New Zealand’s Household Economic Survey shows that around 200,000 households feel that their total household income was not enough to meet their everyday needs. A further 459,000 households felt that their household income was just enough to meet their everyday needs. This amounts to a whopping 40 percent of us who say we’re either just getting by, or not making it financially. + more

The reason more important than the change

Alex Penk
23 November 15

At the height of the Boer War, New Zealanders celebrated the heroism and abilities of our troopers. There was an outpouring of patriotism, and various New Zealand flags flew around the country. The trouble was, it wasn’t quite clear which was the official flag. The Government was embarrassed by the confusion, so in 1902 it made the Blue Ensign with the Southern Cross the official flag. This is the flag we know today. Whether it remains our official flag is up to us. + more