READER REPORT:

Can you fix it? Legalising cannabis would boost tourism

NICK FORREST
Last updated 09:30 09/11/2012
cannabis
WASTE OF RESOURCES: The millions of dollars spent in legislation, and policing such a harmless drug is shocking, writes Nick Forrest.

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Can you fix the economy?

NZ needs nationalisation Can you fix the economy? Save us from ourselves Exploitation rights sold to Sky City Fixing the economy: Imagine if buying a house was trivial Fixing the economy: A list to start with Fix our economy: Learn from Singapore Fixing the economy: A nation of have-nots Can you fix the economy? End MMP Can you fix the economy? Change the rates Can you fix our economy? Build apartments not roads

In order to improve the New Zealand economy, I would:

Invest in infrastructure

State Highway 1 is a joke and improving it would create thousands of jobs and while the affordability of such a project is debatable, at least initially, this crucial piece of infrastructure needs to be maintained and upgraded regardless. Not only this, but other crucial pieces of infrastructure. We need to subsidise products and services that are manufactured and serviced in New Zealand. This would help companies that survive on exports, as well as getting a bit of a kicker from having a lower NZ Dollar.

Subsidise healthy food

The Government should subsidise milk, fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown and produced here. It is already hard enough for low-middle income earners (a huge majority of the population) to get by as it is without having to pay ridiculous amounts to feed their families in a healthy and nutritious way. It is cheaper right now to buy 2L of Coca-Cola than it is 2L of milk. We are one of the largest dairy producers in the world and yet we cannot afford to put a little bit aside for our own people? No wonder increasing percentages of people in New Zealand are having problems with obesity and diabetes and other illnesses that are (with the exception of maybe type 1 diabetes) in actual fact totally controllable (if someone is addicted to eating, then why can't they try salad?) and huge drains on our health system.

Do you think it is smarter to put a fence at the top of a cliff? Or an ambulance at the bottom?

In the long run, I think this is almost one of the most important issues to tackle as, like the rest of the developed world, we are getting fatter and fatter with more and more health related implications with no real concerted efforts to turn the trend around. I don't blame low income families who load their children up on Coca-Cola as it is delicious and at least on the surface, gets the job done. But under the surface has huge implications further down the line. I know water isn't quite as appealing as a cold refreshing Coca-Cola sometimes, but from a health perspective it needs to be easier and more affordable to access healthy, organic foods otherwise the negative health trend will not turn around and the cost to the economy will be greater in the long run. Not to mention increasing dependence on prescription medications, which aren't the answer. The problem can be solved before it happens.

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Legalise marijuana

Firstly, for a drug that is so easy to get that everyone who wants to smoke it already does, and so harmless that it is scientifically proven to be less damaging than tobacco smoking and alcohol - marijuana has to be the victim of the most successful negative marketing campaign in history.

Now, while a lot of people with conservative perspectives will write this off and not even give it any consideration, I genuinely feel that this is something worth looking into. Firstly, the millions of dollars spent in legislation, and policing such a harmless drug is shocking, and when you are a small country like New Zealand with limited revenues you need to prioritise where you spend that money.

I feel that money would be better spent on already under funded education and health systems, and on top, this would also free up police time and assets to solving real crimes, that actually affect people.

And on top of that, consider the tourism revenue. How many people go to Amsterdam just to smoke a joint? - I'm just saying, at least think about it and bring the debate to the 21st century.

Increase tourism revenue

New Zealand's tourism economy is largely invisible. What percentage of people come to New Zealand, hire a camper van, shop cheaply at Pak'n'Save, and then go and enjoy our national parks, bush walks and the like, all of which is funded by the New Zealand tax payer. These tourists from overseas are used to paying donations to use National Parks (I just got back from California and you had to pay just to drive through Yosemite National Park). This wouldn't cover the cost of maintaining these areas but would certainly help to supplement the tax dollars currently spent on them. Again, I feel this money is better spent on health and education. It may even create a few jobs along the way.

Buy back the family jewels

We cannot afford to sell every asset the State owns for short term cash flow. Once they are sold, they are gone and repeat revenue is not an option. Auckland airport and other major national assets should be reclaimed and state owned to help increase state revenues and ensure longevity and stability to the economy. I for one want these assets to be New Zealand owned so it is our citizens and economy that reap the rewards and not some international corporation taking all profits offshore.

Lower Corporate Tax rates to attract more international business. Australia's economy is doing comparatively well and with it only being a hop, skip and a jump away we could potentially benefit from being a lot more affordable for international businesses than similar Australian alternatives.

Get rid of GST

Wasn't GST meant to be implemented only for a couple of years and then abolished? Why do we still have it, and furthermore, why is the percentage going up? This would free up enough cash in low-middle income families and earners to increase confidence help to encourage spending, helping out struggling retail markets.

Keep the dollar low

This would potentially help to increase the effectiveness of attracting international business, but also our biggest export industries would also see greater bang for their buck as well.

Just some thoughts to ponder. I admit, that this essay could be much more effectively formatted, more well researched in regards to statistics for evidence, as well as perhaps more grammatically correct - I did start writing it about 15 minutes ago. However I think the points mentioned are still delicious food for thought and at least deserve some consideration in the debate.


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