Get it together and get it right by Susan Grimsdell

Sometimes I think different parts of the NZ government live on different planets.

One part is always warning of the risk to the economy of New Zealanders’ high level of indebtedness. We’re told we’re deeper in debt than almost anyone else in the world: Fitch Ratings (whoever that is) reports that this country has one of the world’s highest household debt levels, at 93% of GDP.

Save or spend?

By the same token, we’ve also been told time and again that we need to save more. Consumer advocates urge us not to spend on consumables, but to put the money away for a rainy day. As we all know, from reports of sea level rise alone, those rainy days are imminent.

But, in a stunning denial of the above advice, another branch of government, the Reserve Bank, has just dropped the Official Cash Rate to 1%, and they tell us the reason for that is to encourage us to – I can hardly believe this – borrow, borrow, borrow, spend, spend, spend.

Rampant consumerism

On top of that, to confuse matters even more, there’s yet another part of government that has decided we are in a “climate emergency”. Several cities have separately jumped on that bandwagon.

We all know that one of the most destructive things we can do to the planet is to keep using the world’s resources to make stuff, mostly junk in fact, that has a very brief life, and in fact is discarded before it has a chance to wear out, or even be used more than once or twice. We are at last beginning to understand that we live on a finite planet, there’s no Planet “B”, this is all we have and the throw-away consumerist culture simply has to end.

Joined-up government

When will these different branches of government get together and come to some sort of agreement? We can’t both save and spend, we can’t both look after the planet and continue to churn out cheap trashy products that no one needs. They can’t on the one hand throw cheap money at us while on the other tell us to conserve and stop wasting.

The prevalence of this crazy lack of logic doesn’t bode well for the future of our species and, sadly, for hundreds of others who will be dragged to oblivion along with us when we end up going down the gurgler.

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