Today, R0b asked a question that many people have been posing: just how many times does the National Government think it can spend the “profits” it’s “made” by selling off viable money-making New Zealand assets?
So I had a wee dig. Bear in mind, I’m not an economist; I’m just a citizen trying to find out where her money’s being spent.
On the other hand, I help run a household, so apparently this makes me just as qualified as the next person to determine whether the Nats are good economic managers.
Let’s start with the income. 2012 Treasury forecasts suggested a price of $6 billion for selling off 49% of Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, and part of the publicly-owned chunk of Air New Zealand.
The proceeds of these sales go towards the “Future Investment Fund” – which isn’t really a fund, more a guideline.
Now that’s just a Treasury forecast, so put what faith in that that you wish.
What we have in hand is $1.7 billion from the sale of Mighty River Power. (And this was at the low end of the initial $1.6-1.9b estimate of its value, so let’s add that fact to any niggles we feel about Treasury’s forecasts while we’re at it.)
Somewhere along the line this has become $2.1 billion added to the Future Investment Fund.
Now, to the spending.
National has committed from the Future Investment Fund:
- Up to $1.43 billion for the Auckland Central Rail Line
- $1 billion to modernise schools (including the $50 million out of $136 million announced for upgrading school broadband)
- $1 billion into health, including $426 million to redevelop Christchurch and Burwood hospitals and the $88 million announced in Budget 2012)
- $900 million to the Christchurch rebuild
- $400 million to “water priorities” (irrigation)
- $250 million for KiwiRail
- an unknown amount for KiwiBank – but Bill English confirmed that asset sales proceeds would be the source of any new capital for KiwiBank (source) and Kiwibank’s CEO estimates $200 million is needed
- $80 million for the creation of the Advanced Technology Institute, whatever that is
Phew, that’s a mighty list of stuff!
A mighty list of stuff costing $5.26 billion dollars. Out of $6 billion dollars we don’t even have yet.
And that’s ignoring the Government’s earlier statements about reducing our debt by $6 billion. That’s ignoring the fact that the Future Investment Fund only funds capital expenditure, not operating expenditure.
That’s ignoring the millions in the cost of consultants and advertising already spent trying to hike up the price of Mighty River Power.
If we were a household, we’d be sticking a fancy new fridge on hire purchase while promising to put the Xbox on Trademe some time next month, honest, I reckon it’ll pull in $600, and doing nothing about the credit card debt we racked up taking the lads out for Friday night Jagerbombs. Oh, and that new fridge? Uses three times as much electricity, but we haven’t put aside any extra cash for the power bill.
Does this look like good economic management to you?
I am inclined to snort whenever Bob McCoskrie pulls a statistic out of his boner and claims it shows some kind of mainstream support for his views. Ditto anyone who still sincerely argues that the “anti-smacking” referendum showed any kind of clear result (for anyone who missed it the first time around, Lyndon Hood’s flowchart remains the best illustration of why it didn’t.)
But I think statistics have a place. Especially when they back up my own arguments. It’s not that I’m biased, honestly, it’s just that Bob McCoskrie takes:
69% of people said “yes” to the question “Do you think schools, as part of their sex education programme, should be required to encourage pupils, to abstain from sex until they are old enough to handle the possible consequences of pregnancy?”
And turns it into
69% of kiwis overall [support] the ‘wait’ [i.e. abstinence] message
Whereas Idiot/Savant, for example, takes:
A Herald-DigiPoll showed that 61.2 per cent of the public felt adoption law should be changed to allow all couples, including same-sex couples
And turns it into:
over 60% of kiwis support gay adoption
See the subtle difference? (And no, saying “over 60%” when “waaaaaa it’s only a LITTLE bit over and you’re trying to sound like it’s nearly two-thirds of people when REALLY it’s actually only slightly nearly two-thirds of people waaaaaa” doesn’t count.)
(Also, Roy Morgan backs it up, and has … rather more cred that Herald DigiPolls, but the point stands.)
Of course, Bob doesn’t really care about people’s actual attitudes, hence his (and the wider religious right’s) love of convoluted, multipart survey questions which rely on people’s innate biases and desire not to reject good propositions just because they’re surrounded by bad propositions (the way you might feel a bit stink about saying no to shagging Clive Owen just because it’s offered as a threesome with Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgard. Wait, no, I would totally go there …)
One of these days we’re going to see a headline blaring FAMILY FIRST SURVEY FINDS KIWIS HATE GAY PEOPLE and no journalist in New Zealand is going to bother to take the time (i.e. the five seconds on Google) to figure out that the original question was “Would you, like, kinda hate it if your gay best mate, like, totally kicked a puppy right in front of you?”
Because they really like having a population who, even if they remember the difference between mean and median and why these can be flawed ways to measure things, don’t really have the time in between just surviving on shitty wages and crap job security and rising costs of living and lack of social support mechanisms to get all critical and cynical about blatant political lies.
(A competent media could help them out on that, but none have been seen in the wild in this region for years and the species is now feared to be on the point of extinction.)
Still, props to Bright Red for this guest post at The Standard laying out why our Minister of Finance is either amazingly incompetent or feels very secure in the knowledge that he simply will not be called on this shit.
Our teacher had 10 of us line up at the front of the class and measured our heights. From that she calculated an average.
Then, she got the tallest boy to stand on a chair and measured his height again. He was now 50cm higher. The average of the ten kids went up 5cm. But nearly all of were the same height.
That was the first lesson: average does not mean typical, it can be influenced by movements in outliers.
Though I always like the “kill two rhetorical birds with one stone” method of getting 6 people in a room, working out a rough average wage for them and then saying “Oh look, here comes the CEO of Telecom! Now you all have a mean wage of $1 million a year so you must have no financial worries!”