Troubled times, time to wake up
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I've been reading the user submissions on here regarding fixing New Zealand’s economy - there's been some great ideas, some not so great, and some downright scary!
While the ideas to get our economy moving, eg attracting overseas investment, or lowering the dollar to help exporters, raising/lowering taxes, cutting government spending could all work in a static world, what most or all assume is that either the other countries of the world are going to continue to trade with us, or somehow increase their levels of trade and economic activity.
We need to get real here - in case nobody on here has noticed - the global economy is in complete disarray, and the economists that predicted the events of 2008 (ie the ones worth listening to) agree that things are only going to get worse.
We all know the global economy is interconnected. If the Western economies aren’t buying things, then productive nations like China won’t manufacture things, and raw material exporting countries like Australia and New Zealand won’t be exporting things.
A world economic collapse is a very real possibility. The European Union is buying its own debt, the US Federal Reserve is now on its third round of Quantitative Easing, with calls for a fourth, and other countries are doing the same.
Most people realise you can't print money out of thin air, backed by nothing, and expect people to accept your promise to pay your debt forever.
While it's a nice idea to think that we in New Zealand have been somewhat more sensible than others, if a euro or US dollar collapse happens, unless something is done now it will inevitably mean that our own banks and dollar could fall also.
We need to prepare for the worst now and detach ourselves from the toxic world economic system that we are at the mercy of, and get ourselves in a position to come out the other side intact.
The parallels between what happened only last century and today are there for us all to see. The crash of 1929, was followed by the Great Depression, followed by trade wars, currency wars, then World War Two.
The crash of 2008, followed by world depression/recession, trade wars, and now currency wars - all it takes is a short study of history to see what awaits.
Now I hope I’m completely wrong, and somehow a political solution can be found, and I’m a doom and gloom weirdo - but if I’m right, here’s some things that New Zealand can do to prepare:
PEG OUR DOLLAR TO SOMETHING TANGIBLE
If history has taught us anything, it is that a currency backed by nothing has failed every time it's been tried. It's a nice idea to be able to pay for things with a promissory note, or today’s electronic equivalent, but because paper currency has no inherent value in of itself, it is only a matter of time before reckless people in charge destroy their nation’s currency. We must remember that there is no difference between the hundred dollar note of monopoly game money and a hundred dollar note from the Reserve Bank, except it looks prettier.
Historically our dollar was pegged to the US dollar, which was in itself pegged to gold. A US dollar default happened under Nixon in the '70s – he dropped the gold standard and as a result – an ounce of gold which in 1971 was worth US$35 is now last week being traded at just under US$1800. We have to realise that it’s not that gold has become that much more valuable, but the dollar has devalued by that much.
Because of its scarcity - gold (and to a lesser extent silver), has always been a store of value. Also because neither can be printed, a central bank can’t wreck the value of it. In the event of a currency collapse it is those that hold the gold that come out the other side intact.
Unfortunately for us we haven’t learned that lesson. Central banks the world over know what is coming, China, Germany, Russia, India and others all have increased their holdings of gold. New Zealand’s Reserve Bank on the other hand has a grand total of zero ounces of gold. It does however hold a large amount of foreign currency as reserve which should be used to purchase gold or silver.
While it is up to us as individuals what we do with our savings, many of us have large amounts stored in KiwiSaver schemes. It is a disgrace that there is no KiwiSaver scheme that can actually buy something tangible. There needs to be a scheme where New Zealanders can choose to save their money in precious metals, stored in a New Zealand vault, or other commodities, instead of being forced to save in shares, bonds, or cash.
GET ENERGY DEPENDENT
If there is a collapse of the world economy and/or war, foreign trade will be greatly reduced or cease altogether. We are greatly reliant on our agricultural exporters, and reliant on essential imports such as oil. While we will all survive if we can’t buy the latest iPhone or television, we would be in real trouble if we can’t get our own food around to New Zealanders.
We need to look at alternatives that can be produced here. We have an abundance of land which could be converted to things like biofuels, or hemp production which could power a truly green economy. And before I’m accused of being a pot smoking crazy, there are hemp strains that one could try and smoke all day without getting high.
DETACH OURSELVES FROM THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
It baffles me as to why we continue to think that the world is going to change. New Zealanders used to stand up for what is right. We were the first country to give women the vote. We stood up against apartheid policy in South Africa and we told the world’s biggest military power that nuclear weapons had no place here.
We are a small nation of just over four million at the bottom of the world, but just because we are small, it doesn’t mean we have to follow the rest of the world into economic ruin. We need to stand up for ourselves because relying on the rest of the world to sort out their own mess is folly of the highest order.
We need to stop allowing money to be made from money, and that means no Wall Street casino type operations here, or us dealing with corporations or countries that engage in those games. Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, high frequency computer trades of currencies, manipulations of commodities and the stock exchange, produce and do nothing worthwhile but can cause millions across the world to lose their homes, starve, and cause countries to be destroyed just as badly as an invasion from a hostile army.
The reckless greed of people in charge of the financial system and those in charge of its oversight has led the world to this stage, and we, as New Zealanders, need to say 'no more and we don’t want any part of it'.
REAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
The global economy is like the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia. We have fools at the helm, we’ve hit the rocks and the ship is on its side and taking on water, yet we listen to our captain as he tells us it’s all okay, and there’s no need to get in a lifeboat.
We need to realise that our captain is lying to us, and either get in a boat or learn to swim.
We then need a captain who tells us the truth even if it’s not what we want to hear, and we need to be mature enough to listen to the truth. We need somebody who is followed when asked “not what our country can do for them, but what we can do for our country”.
We need media who report both sides of a story instead of just repeating what politicians say, and demand honesty from our politicians.
If somebody is going to lead us or represent us in parliament our media needs to investigate whether they suit the role or not.
We need to protect our democracy from politicians who act in their own self interest, and who openly deceive us.
We need to be educated and informed and maybe instead of “reality” TV pushed on us, we could have a range of programming to inform and educate our people, teaching us not what to think, but how to think, so we can have a country of free thinkers like we used to be.
TRULY SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY
Here’s a quote:
"Then I kind of looked at this economic system that controls the world. An economic system that is so insane, that the more successful it is in its own terms, the quicker it destroys the planet. It’s the perfect environmental and human assassin. It insists every year that we take more from the Earth even quicker, turn it into more things, sell even more things, consume even more things, throw away even more things, to worship the real god of the modern world – economic growth. It insists that every year 20 per cent of the people of the world consume 80 per cent of the resources while leaving the other 80 per cent to get by on the other 20 per cent. Crazy? Of course it is! This economic system; take, make and throw away - that controls your life and mine, and of the billions of people here."
One thing I’ve always found is no matter who is asked, we can all agree that the current economic system isn’t working, and that it is foolish to think that infinite growth is possible in a world of finite resources. We have to change it somehow, and the sooner we do, the better off we will all be.
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