Real Issues Blog

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

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

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