Real Issues Blog

Social insecurity

Kieran Madden
27 July 16

Declines in personal savings and fertility rates in the West are stark indicators that may help explain how economic insecurity fosters phenomena like the rise of Trump and the decline of the EU through Brexit. Both movements are driven largely by the wills of older Americans and Brits facing increasingly uncertain futures—in large part because they had fewer babies and saved less than their forebears.

Where savings and fertility decline, immigration rises to plug the growth gap—a controversial flash-point and common proclamation by demagogues in these debates. But rising immigration—whether it concerns you or not—is just a visible sign of deeper issues. + more

Productive thinking

Julian Wood
21 July 16

Everybody wants New Zealand to be a great place to work and live. High wages, high growth, high productivity, low unemployment, affordable smartphones and great weekends. The question is how to get there. Wage rises for most are low and in the order of inflation. Higher productivity is a key driver of the kind of lifestyle we want, but New Zealand’s productivity numbers are poor. + more

"Trust me" - politics can be better

Danielle van Dalen
11 July 16

A survey commissioned by Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (IGPS), titled “Who Do We Trust” found that only 8% of us hold complete trust in Members of Parliament (MPs). In comparison, medical practitioners and the police hold the complete trust of 56% and 53% of New Zealanders respectively.+ more

No Bregrets

Kieran Madden
04 July 16

As the market dived and the pound sterling plummeted to a thirty-year lows following Brexit, deep despair and outrage reigned. Economists sung “I told you so” in chorus. Markets hate uncertainty, and given the circumstances, the economic shockwaves are likely to ripple for a few years (at least).+ more

Death pledge

Julian Wood
16 June 16

I went with my father the day he paid off his mortgage. Afterwards, it seemed like his back straightened a bit, he told everyone how happy he was, how liberating it felt—like a weight was gone from his shoulders. I wonder if we feel the weight of debt as acutely in our present culture. + more

Protesting democracy

Jeremy Vargo
16 June 16

It’s been an odd week. With Britain’s 52% vote to leave the EU shocking the pollsters, news websites and social media has been awash with anguish, glee, and wild conjecture. Beyond the actual events of the vote, results, and ensuing political resignations, there was the strata of expert opinions, opinion columnists, and status updates to dig through, and of course—this is the digital age after all—online petitions to sign. + more

Unrealistic safeguards

Danielle van Dalen
13 June 16

“Safeguards.” It’s an official-sounding and soothing term often used by those in favour of euthanasia, to ease concerns about the effect of physician-assisted suicide on vulnerable communities. The literature and overseas experience, however, seem to suggest that in this area, no safeguard has been safe enough. + more

Promises promises

Jeremy Vargo
06 June 16

Of course one could argue that changing the government is the core business of any opposition party—but I think there’s a chance this MoU could be a promising first step towards a serious “government-in-waiting.” This bodes well for the New Zealanders at the polls next year, as the system we have presently makes it difficult for voters to piece together a clear, coherent vision of an alternative government. + more

Budget won’t fix lack of vision

Julian Wood
30 May 16

Some are suggesting we respond to the housing crisis by throwing policy advice to the wind, building a bunch of houses and borrowing the money to do so. Debt, of course, must be paid off at some point, but they’re right to expose that there seems to be a lack of vision, with no reasonable solutions for people in need right now. + more

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