Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On Labour’s plans to raise the retirement age

October 28th, 2011

Labour’s plan to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 by 2033 (with exemptions for some manual workers) and to gradually lift employer Kiwisaver contributions to 7% over the same period is hardly a revolutionary step. As many have already pointed out, they’re doing much the same across the Tasman, only faster.

The retirement age in Australia will shift to 67 in small six month steps from 2017, reaching 67 in 2023 – and employer contributions to compulsory savings will rise to 12% over the same period. The US will lift their retirement age to 67 by 2022. The UK plans envisage a retirement age of 68, by 2046.

So if Labour’s plan is not draconian, it is in step with changes being made elsewhere in the developed world, and marks an attempt to deal with the looming challenges of demographic reality and generational justice. Nor is it purely a centre left initiative. The Act Party has been pushing for some time for the change that Labour is now promoting.

National however, is choosing to live in denial. At some point, voters are going to have to decide whether the conservation of John Key’s popularity really should be the country’s No.1 priority.

In the real world, the dominant role of National Superannuation in the public accounts must be confronted. We have an aging population, and one where many of the aged are fit and able to work at 65. Fairness between generations and sheer affordability mean that either the retirement age will have to be raised and/or some form of means testing for the pension introduced. This debate can’t be postponed, because the burden of the current National Super scheme is already taking its toll – and at this election, it is already putting the needs of pensioners ahead of the needs of other forms of social spending.

If re-elected, the Key government has pledged to carry through on its plans to crack down on beneficiaries. It will be doing so for ideological reasons – and also, to pay for National Superannuation. As this year’s Budget papers showed, the growth in spending on the kinds of beneficiaries who are likely to be most in the firing line next year was actually neutral before the global recession hit (see page 79, Social Development Ministry Appropriations) The payments for the dole and for the Emergency Benefit payments had decreased, and this had offset the rise in payments for other benefits.

However, during the same two years before the global recession arrived, the rise in National Superannuation costs had accounted for ALL of the $535 million growth in expenditure on benefits in those years. This situation is likely to continue, and to worsen. During the nine years from 2006/07 until 2014/15, the numbers on National Super will rise by nearly a third, or some 150,000 people. Costs will rise steeply, in tandem. “Annual expenditure on [National Superannuation] will increase by 71% from $6,810 million to $11, 670 million during the 2006/07 to 2014/15 period.” Nearly two thirds of this rise will be due to the annual cost-of-living adjustments. Obviously, much more could be said about this unsustainable crowding out by National Superannuation of the needs of other beneficiaries. Yet plainly, a fairer distribution of the tax burden would avoid National Super recipients and those on other benefits being put in head-on competition with each other.

It is not as if the National Party has never before seen the need for action in this area. The change from 65 to 67 that Labour is mooting will not take full effect for 20 years. By contrast, the Bolger government phased in a far more extensive hike of the pension entitlement age (from 60 to 65) relatively abruptly, between 1992 and 2001. As Bolger said in his autiobiography:

The [Todd] Task Force produced a report that all parties, except New Zealand First, signed up to. In essence the Accord confirmed the steps we had taken to raise the age of eligibility from 60 to 65, to lower the pension as a percentage of the average wage from the original 80 to about 65 per cent, and to retain and strengthen the surtax [sic] arrangements.”

Labour is proposing nothing as wide-ranging as that. But it does raise the question – how could a relatively abrupt rise in age eligibility and a lowering of entitlements be promoted by the National Party 20 years ago, while a far smaller change seems to be anathema to the same party now? Yes, the National Party took a popularity hit at the time for the actions it took on this issue – but does Key seriously think that the retirement age should still be being paid out at 60 and at 80% of the average wage? And if it was the right thing to raise the retirement age and to lower the entitlements back then, why is it wrong to even consider a smaller, less abrupt change in this area now?

Key, for his part, is now calling the Labour plan ‘unaffordable.” That takes some gall, given that Key is going into this election on the back of an unaffordable round of tax cuts and with a National Superannuation scheme that is economically and socially unsustainable. Of course, if Key endorsed Labour’s plan in the same bipartisan fashion that Bolger proceeded 20 years ago, he would open the door to Winston Peters once again, as the sole champion of the pensioners.

To that extent, Key’s motivation is probably self preservation – if he tosses Peters a lifeline at this stage of the election campaign by cracking down on pensioners in any way, he gets Peters over the 5% threshold and puts his own government’s survival in peril. Once again, this is more about the wellbeing of John Key, than it is about the wellbeing of New Zealand.

To that extent, perhaps we should forget about the analogies between this election and 2002. On this issue of National Superannuation, those with long memories will be having flashbacks to the 1975 election – and to Robert Muldoon’s willingness to beggar the country for generations, in order that he could get and keep the pensioner vote. Somewhere in the beyond, Muldoon must be cackling at the actions of his current protégé.

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    1. 24 Responses to “On Labour’s plans to raise the retirement age”

    2. By Joe Wylie on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      Nice to read an analysis that goes beyond congratulating Labour on their ‘pragmatism’, while offering the token condolence that it won’t be a vote winner. I had hoped for a little comment on the supposed exemptions for manual workers, because it’s grown to be a significant health and welfare issue.

      While the prospect of working to 67 and beyond isn’t particularly daunting for the commentariat, it’s a grim prospect for the increasingly greying manual workforce. You don’t have to look far to find these people. Local government outdoor workers, road maintenance – for many this is the only work they can find after being conveniently downsized once their prime (20-40ish) employable years are past.

      Manual work that involves physical exertion takes a heavy toll in later life, with reduced life expectancy a stark reality. As most politicians and media commentators’ experience of such things is limited to student holiday jobs the issue’s been largely ignored.

    3. By Dave Bedggood on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      Yeah this is labour being pragmatic again, putting profits before people. Workers productivity has soared over the last century yet capital has reaped the lions share of this. So now Labour proposes to implement ACTs austerity measure of making workers work longer (lifetime productivity) rather than force capital to return a small part of its accumulated wealth. Labour long ago swallowed TINA, but today’s Generation Zero has woken up and won’t swallow that rat.

    4. By Joe Blow on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Joe Wylie

      It amazes me just how people aren’t listening to the points made by Labour on this issue! How many 60+ year olds have you seen working road maintenance Joe? They must be very fit looking for their age. They’ll probably live longer than the pen pushers who are more likely to die early from heart disease or the like… Under Labour’s policy there will be a transitional grant for people working manual jobs who can’t physically continue to work anyway… please listen.

    5. By Joe Wylie on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      Joe Blow, I didn’t dispute that Labour had made provisions for manual workers in their policy. I simply expressed my disappointment that such issues weren’t being more widely discussed. As for your scepticism about older workers engaged in physically demanding jobs, one immediate example is the high proportion employed by City Care here in Christchurch. While City Care appear to have a pretty good workplace culture it can be demanding work.

      If you’re seriously interested in these sorts of issues you could check some of the online job listings placed by those organisations that assist the older unemployed. How about removing asbestos for the minimum hourly rate? Falling off the employment train once you’re past midlife isn’t pleasant. If Labour are offering genuine relief then hopefully the party doesn’t share your denial that we have a real present problem.

    6. By Joe Blow on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Joe Wylie

      I would have thought that aged unemployment (or unemployment in general) was a separate issue. When looking at the stats for unemployment, youth appear to dominate the numbers anyway.

      I live in Christchurch too and I haven’t seen what looks like 60+ workers on the roads ever. They might have to start scraping the bottom of the barrel, if a skill shortage eventuates…

      So you’re complaining because the unemployed elderly would have to wait two more years to switch over to Super? Can you be a bit more to the point please?

    7. By Joe Wylie on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      “Joe Blow”:

      I initially posted here to express an opinion which I’m quite satisfied that I’ve made reasonably clear. While it’s none of your business, I’ll be voting Labour this election on the strength of my local candidate’s integrity. If the Party were entirely populated with petulant time-wasters who lack the courage of their convictions to the point of attempting to provoke petty squabbles online from behind inane pseudonyms I’d probably not bother voting.

      All the best with your sheltered life, as we won’t be communicating again.

    8. By Joe Blow on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Mr Wylie

      Petulant shelterd time-waster, am I? Nice… At least I don’t feel the need to insult others for simply being asked to clarify my point… bon voyage then!

    9. By Dave McArthur on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      Thank you Joe Wylie for attempting to defend us from Gordon’s attack on labourers. His article displays neither compassion nor comprehension of the vital contribution that labourers make to the welfare of our nation. His contempt for our contribution is typical of many middle class folk of his generation. Previous generations before electrical and fossil fuel driven devices became prevalent and those who experienced the deprivations of war learned respect for labour from their sweat and toil.
      Visionaries such as Tesla were inspired to make their great inventions so as to release humans from drudgery.
      It is telling that Gordon’s models –the USA, Australian, UK and his so-called “developed world” nations– were all built on and are maintained by a vast abuse of labour. Arguably those named are some of the least sustainable nations on the planet. However this is not the most revealing aspect of the article.
      When you slug it out for a living one becomes more familiar with what a manhour of labour actually feels like. Eight hours of labour provides an even more graphic sensual experience. Day in day out for years on end really develops a healthy respect for what one manhour of labour entails. In my case it has made me profoundly aware of the extraordinary nature of mineral oil, which contains the equivalent of about 25000 manhours of labour in a 42 gallon barrel and works in all climates at all times. Try shoveling a ton of rock by hand and you might begin to appreciate the amazing power of this finite mineral. It does nearly all our lifting, pulling and pushing now. In Gordon’s life time we have destroyed most of the extraordinary wealth of mineral oil and converted it to pollution in most wasteful way. So soon many of us are going to have to do that laboring ourselves again.
      As I have come to realize the value of labour this last forty years I find I am revising my opinion of Robert Muldoon drastically. I believe history will show he was enlightened in limiting car imports and jet travel while Labour will be seen as incredibly barbaric for promoting profligate use of mineral oil with its floods of cheap Jap car imports, truck and jets, all basically debt generating devices.
      History will also mark Gordon’s condemnation of Muldoon as remarkably ignorant. We had a choice in the 1980s. Invest our huge wealth in wasteful, barbaric transport forms or invest in quality health, education and other civic activity. Labour chose the former policy and now it is probable that every person who spends$2000 a year on petrol receives a hidden subsidy of maybe $20,000. Which makes you realize retirement at 60, fee-free education etc. was eminently possible.

    10. By Joe Blow on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Dave

      If Muldoon hadn’t axed Labour’s compulsory superannuation scheme in 1976 we would have been the envy of the world!

      Brian Gaynor: How Muldoon threw away NZ’s wealth
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/super-fund/news/article.cfm?c_id=468&objectid=10465138

      Instead he borrowed us into a hole and set up our current pay as we go scheme, which is unsustainable. You’ve got your head in the sand! By 2051, the population share of those 65 years and older will more than have doubled, while the youngest share of the population will contract by nearly one-third.

      What’s your big plan for sorting that out now Dave? Leave the next generation to worry about it I guess…

    11. By Joe Wylie on Oct 29, 2011 | Reply

      Dave McArthur:

      I don’t see what Gordon Campbell has written here as a direct attack on manual workers, unless you define attack as failing to take into account some of the very valid issues you’ve described. Perhaps Labour’s policymakers will pay attention to Natalie Jackson, who provides the figures to back up what many of know to be true from first-hand experience:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5873014/Pension-change-too-late-for-boomers

      In a late-1970s interview Colin Scrimgeour described Muldoon with heavy irony as probably NZ’s last real socialist Prime Minister. In retrospect he could be seen as being correct, for some of the reasons you mention. I don’t believe, though, that Muldoon was ever motivated by anything other than opportunism.

      Selective socialism that benefits one group against another is contrary to the social justice principles that Labour sometimes claims to stand for, where assistance is given according to need, rather than pandering to a particular power base. In Muldoon’s case he played the interests of his own generation off against the very generation that now appears to unfairly benefit from Labour’s current retirement policy.

    12. By Dave McArthur on Oct 29, 2011 | Reply

      Hi Jo Blow (Hope this name real – I have joined the movement to bring democracy to the world by only debating with people who have the integrity and courage to use their names on the Net.)

      Until about 1987 I agreed entirely with Brian’s viewpoint and campaigned vigorously against National for destroying Labour’s 1975 compulsory superannuation scheme. However since then when I hear people like Brian talking I conclude, “This country is in deep, deep trouble if this is the best insight our gurus can offer.”
      At least four insights caused me to reverse my position and bless that decision.
      (1) I realised Universal Super is a brilliant civic invention. Privatised super schemes must inevitably destroy Universal Super with its associated social equity and respect for labour.
      (2) In the early 1980s people like Roger Douglas, David Caygill et al had dined with us, sat there listening to our views of the Labour Party and somehow had been unable to tell us they planned to do the very opposite. We suffered dearly for our misplaced trust in them. And as I watched them systematically parcel up and transfer our national solid assets to the banker-thugs of this planet I realised how they would have necessarily and easily devastated all our fiat savings in the 1975 scheme. The Four Labour Administration was radically different to both the Third Administration– and to Bob Hawk’s Administration in Australia. I apologised in my heart to Robert Muldoon, for he had saved us the heartbreak of watching our private super savings vanish with our other national assets.
      (3) I observed how the 1979 mineral oil price rise decimated similar schemes in the US (e.g. the Savings and Loans tragedy). I realised credit must have real collateral and we rich peoples were burning through most of that collateral as though we have no tomorrow. By 2000 I was convinced the age of the collateral of cheap mineral oil was over and predicted that such super schemes must implode as the price rose. Sure enough schemes like the US 401K scheme have been depleted by $US1.5 trillion in value since mineral oil reached $US50 a barrel and the value of the Aussie scheme began to diminish at $US70 a barrel in 2007 – about the time Michael Cullen was jeering at the concept of Peak Oil and setting up KiwiSaver. Without taxpayer subsidies of all sorts to keep the money speculators afloat KiwiSaver (KiwiKiller?) would be looking very sick now. Similarly Cullen’s Superfund is now being used directly to prop up the sunset, debt-generating private car industry and indirectly Infratil’s investments in fossil fuel destruction and unsustainable Bulk-generated electrical products.
      (4) In 1998 I began a two-decade career working as a meter reader for the community-owned electrical enterprises (MEDs and PowerBoards.) I was immensely humbled to learn from older generations the extraordinary sacrifice, generosity and foresight in which these were founded. They taught me that these institutions represented our real and sustaining source of wealth. They had learned its value the hard way in the Depression and the World Wars. These institutions were worth hundreds of billions of dollars and represented our real superannuation, providing heating, lighting and access to all manner of technology. This immense wealth potential remained intact under Muldoon, as did that of the NZ Post Office, which I was also employed by for 7 years. I have watched every Parliament subsequent to 1984 systematically destroy that vast wealth so that now our uses of our electrical potential mean it is now fundamentally a debt–generator for the bankers and a manufacturer of cannon fodder.

      My big plan? Enjoy compassion and thus embrace science, which will enable civics and democracy to flourish. This means scrapping our current Treasury, copyright legislation, the fascist Electricity Industry Reform and ETS legislation, the 2006 National Education Curriculum Framework and usury. It means putting a high value on fossil fuels, conserving our solar potential and giving back communities the democratic right to own and use the intelligence of their local electrical potentials again. Unrealistic? Well the current big plan is catastrophic global warfare by about 2013 as both cheap mineral oil collateral and our options evaporate. Do you call that a realistic plan?

      Final thought. – The notion that exceptions will be made for labourers is the voice of Roger Douglas et al speaking through the Labour Party. It is a form of apartheid of the low paid and denigrates the role of the labourer. Labourers perform vital, honourable roles and deserve equitable payment. The notion reveals the subliminal truth of the current Labour Party psychology – it remains unsustainable, untrustworthy and primarily exists to serve the short-term interests of bankers and other psychopathic, greed-driven groups.

    13. By Joe Blow on Oct 29, 2011 | Reply

      @ Dave

      Na, it’s not my real name, well at least not the last name. How do I know that you are being honest about Dave McArthur being your real name?

      I have to say that I am with Mr Wylie on this issue. I also think your view is based on a one sided view of history:

      (1) Compulsory Super could never be described as a privatised scheme. It would have been managed by the government.

      (2) You make it sound like Labour had an easy choice and conveniently miss out the bit about how much debt Muldoon got us into and how National carried on the policies initiated by Douglas. I know that the restructuring of government in the 80s and 90s didn’t have to be as extreme as it was, but blame both National and Labour for that! And don’t give me that ballony about how the government went against the will of the people. We voted Labour back in in 1987 and even though National carried on the same policies we kept voting Ruth and then Shipley back in for three terms! Blame FPP if anything, not the Labour Party, if your gripe is with their policies not being the will of the majority. New Zealanders, most of them now facing retirement who enjoyed the benefits of a Welfare State including free education when growing up, are the same majority of people who have voted consistently for lower taxes and their own self interest for the last 25 years. That’s democracy… time for them to start paying their own way…

      (3) Wake up! The economies that are flying in the face of this recession, are command led economies running soverign wealth funds with their surpluses, which are run by their governments (i.e. China etc). Our compulsory super was based on the Singaporean model…

      (4) The only reason those institutions remained under Muldoon was because of government protection on the back of unsustainable government borrowing and spending. I’m not saying that protection won’t one day become a viable option again, but governments can’t sustain such industries indefinitely without getting into lots of debt…

      I think that investment in R&D and support for small niche market high tech industries in New Zealand would help, but if you are suggesting that we should become a mass manufacturing economy competing with the likes of Germany and China in solar panels and wind farms, I’ve got news for you – even if you were living in the real world – too late!

      Imagine if we had our compulsory super raising capital for our local industries through 50% investment in the NZX! What a different New Zealand we would be!

      Look this is about this election with the history we are stuck with and none of the other parties (other than ACT) are offering a viable option for dealing with the baby boomer retirement long-term.

      The only countries that may be preparing themselves for peak oil are China and Israel and they’ll just sell us alternative energy technology for our food. If you want to talk Peak Oil why not talk global warming too? With global warming food will become about as scarce as oil. Who’s preparing for that problem?

      Of course that’s if there is an extreme drop off in oil supply as most peak oil theorists predict. It may be slower than that though. It could be a gradual decline allowing time for swapping to alternatives. Either way life will have to change drastically anyway. Actually your mentioning of peak oil makes National’s plans for deepsea drilling in the Bay of Plenty look like a really good idea! Or a nuclear power plant. Is deepsea drilling and nuclear power part of your plan Dave? If Muldoon was still in power he wouldn’t hesitate… now he could really Think Big!

    14. By AC on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply

      “…this unsustainable crowding out by National Superannuation of the needs of other beneficiaries…”
      Presumably that word “other” is a slip of the pen. Some superannuitants get really hacked off at being called beneficiaries. They will tell you in no uncertain terms that national superannuation is paid, as of right, to everyone from age 65; one does not have to apply to WINZ for it.

    15. By Miriam on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply

      Muldoon went to the IMF. Now the IMF would like and feel that past (and present ) squandering of fossil fuel resources by multinationals justifies a move for everyone else back to feudalism. Selling our food to Israel and China in exchange for the great privilege of buying from them electric rails & windturbines .

      This as though we were (or are) unable to create intelligent energy solutions ( maybe we are too busy pumping our oil, resources and gold into foreign hands for cents on the dollar).
      Why is it too late to compete(or to provide NZ’s )with energy solutions?
      If its too late why are we able to purchase from foreign companies energy meters for the reason of eliminating meter readers and to increase emf emissions in real time.

      This is what happens when the economic sphere consumes the social and political spheres.

    16. By Dianne Moore on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply

      The debate so far is asking the wrong questions, for example what is the “right” age for National Superannuation, should it be lowered/raised? The focus should be more on supporting people in need and not on people who “deserve” support because they reached a specifc age. Some people are old by 50, ready for retirement due to health issues, while others are still fit and healthy at 80. I propose that National Super be treated like any other benefit (eg Sickness and unemployment benefit) and be health and wealth tested. Why should people like Roger Douglas and Bob Jones receive handouts from the State? This is doable, we have the processes already in place for other beneficiaries. Make KiwiSaver compulsory at 12%, make Financial Literacy one of the school National Unit Standards for Years 11-13, and then most of the population will have enough funds for their retirement, without recourse to state funding.

    17. By Joe Blow on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply

      @ Miriam

      I am assuming you’re talking to me. Um, I’m not saying that we can’t make a contribution to green energy technology but in terms of mass manufacturing we’re at a disadvantage. You could ask, “Why are we not a major car manufacturing country?” and get the same answer to your question on why we can’t compete with the big wigs on solar and wind mass manufacturing.

      Muldoon was actually the chairman of the board of governors for the IMF and World Bank so he didn’t have to go any where to secure his loans…

      Food is still a very important commodity which we have an advantage in producing and one which will always be important as without it we’re toast…

      Why would it matter if China made them for us?

      Here’s an interesting article in the guardian:

      How China dominates solar power
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/12/how-china-dominates-solar-power

    18. By Miriam on Nov 1, 2011 | Reply

      @Joe I did not recommend that we look to manufacture and produce the whole worlds alternative energy technology. Windturbines are ineffient, so what does it matter if we buy them from China…and what does it matter if we purchase light rails from Isreal (and what does it matter where potentially cancerous advanced meters came from) .
      The more dependent we are on imports and the more energy resource and wealth sell offs we engage in now the more we lose the “food commodity advantage”.
      @Dianne financial literacy needs to be taught to the people that sell of our energy and resources .
      Your colorful idea of making Financial Literacy one of the school National Unit Standards for Years 11-13 will not in fact allow most of the population to have enough funds for their retirement, without recourse to state funding .
      What does it matter if simple cost benefit analysis is bypassed to make whatever decisions that serve a private interest( and dianne do you think corruption 101 should also be in the curriculum ).

    19. By Joe Blow on Nov 1, 2011 | Reply

      @ Miriam

      So if saving the planet meant being dependant on foreign solar panel imports, you would do what?

    20. By Miriam on Nov 2, 2011 | Reply

      @Joe saving the planet does not mean being dependent on foreign solar panel imports.
      Saving the planet also doesn’t depend on New Zealand selling off its energy resources either.

    21. By Joe Blow on Nov 2, 2011 | Reply

      @ Miriam

      What do you mean? Saving the planet already means being dependent on foreign solar panel imports! Most of our wind farms are made by foreign manufacturers (Vesta and Siemens). We have Windflow in Christchurch but they are hardly on their way to becoming internationally competitive. I have never heard of a solar panel manufacturer in New Zealand, have you?

      Look we could refuse to import these green products and subsidise our own green manufacturing but what would that achieve other than slowing New Zealand’s progress towards renewable energy? Even the Greens are talking about the GLOBAL market in renewable energy technology and about how by securing just even 1% of this market we can build a $6-8 billion EXPORT industry. There’s no point in the government subsidising such a local industry unless it can go global or otherwise there would be no benefit to us and the industry would not be paying for itself. The prize would be a stake in this new global market. That’s the carrot! We’d have to get our local companies to a multinational standard (like Vesta from Denmark) for there to be real payoffs for New Zealand.

      Hell Vesta has already lost over half of its global market share in the face of new competition, which I guess is why the Greens are trying to sell the manufacture of green products we can realistically compete globally with, for example biofuel:

      http://www.greens.org.nz/GreenJobsInitiativeBooklet.pdf

    22. By Miriam on Nov 2, 2011 | Reply

      @joe
      NZ being dependent on importing solar panels will not save the planet, but its ok with me that you think it will.

    23. By Joe Blow on Nov 2, 2011 | Reply

      @ Miriam

      So you don’t see environmental degradation and global warming through dependence on fossil fuels as being the greatest threat to life on this planet? Are you saying we’re doomed already so why bother trying then?

    24. By Miriam on Nov 3, 2011 | Reply

      I suggest you try feigning the same concern about the sum total of the military’s use of fossil fuels (and our energy resources being nicked when we need them most) .
      I am genuinely concerned but know that NZ depending on importing solar panels will not save the planet as you claim it will.
      Mans greed, ignorance and selfishness is the greatest threat to life on the planet,( and the inequity of the current financial system threatens social stability). As there are still selfless and kind people on this planet I don’t believe we are doomed or that all hope is lost.

    25. By Joe Blow on Nov 3, 2011 | Reply

      @ Miriam

      Well if humanity is all about greed, isn’t the most likely hope of us making the transition from fossil fuels to alternatives (before it’s too late) through our current capitalist economic system? It’s a global problem that requires a global effort with every country doing their part. New Zealand certainly can’t save the planet on its own. What is motivating China to try and dominate the global solar panel market? Money of course! The Greens certainly seem to be saying that there is money in green technology for NZ… they’re doing their best to sell the idea anyway.

      I’m more intent on trying to do my best with the financial system we currently have rather than crying about how it should be. You know Miriam, if the boat is sinking, I’m going to do my best to convince everyone on board to help me build a raft with the tools we have at hand, not sit there complaining about how everything should be different while we drown…

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