Chris Trotter - The “Why?” of Superannuation More Important That The “What?”
Chris Hipkins – Tax cuts or Super?
Claire Browning - Universal pension: universally fair?
Bernard Hickey - Why NZ still has time to debate its pensions crisis before the debt wave overwhelms us
In this week’s column on the Retirement Income Policy and Intergenerational Equity conference, I called for progressives who disagreed with Peter Harris’s position that the current system is sustainable to make their views heard. As it turn out, Chris Trotter was already doing just that in his Press column (later reproduced on his blog).
Trotter claims that, “Only a fool would suggest that the vast expansion of our over-65 population will require no adjustments whatsoever to the current delivery mechanisms.” He then casts doubt on the reliability of Treasury’s fiscal projections and says policymaking should be made on the basis of principles instead. Nevertheless, he concludes be saying that society should “do what it takes” to maintain an adequate Superannuation: “That may mean higher taxes. It may mean increased immigration. It may even mean adopting Dr Brash’s suggestion” (of allowing people to trade off the eligibility age against the rate of payment).
Very few progressives I know (of whatever stripe) agree with everything Chris Trotter says, but most of them accept that he does make quite insightful points from time to time. Is this one of those times? What do you think?
Actually, though, I found a statement he made in the depths of an (often intemperate) comment thread debate with Pundit’s Tim Watkin at least as interesting:
The work of people like Michael Littlewood and Susan St-John has clearly demonstrated that NZ’s super’ scheme is one of the fairest and most sustainable on Earth. The size of the dependent population remains about the same as it ever was in NZ – actual dependency has simply shifted from the very young to the very old. (In case all you pest-controllers hadn’t noticed there are far fewer children to take care of, house and educate than there were 65 years ago.)
(Trotter also responded to Watkin in a post on intergenerational issues this week.)
Chris Hipkins is part of the Labour caucus’s very strong ‘Class of ‘08′ and a frequent contributor to the Red Alert blog mainly produced by that group (and Trevor Mallard). His post picks up on my analysis and argues there is trade-off between Super sustainability and John Key’s tax cuts.
Claire Browning writes about green issues for the Pundit website. Her post is primarily reportage of the conference (much more comprehensive than mine — but best read from the bottom up, as it’s done as a series of updates). But she did set out some of her own conclusions:
I just don’t buy the argument that this is a Trojan horse, for antique treasures. This is not just an NZ thing; other OECD countries are recognising the problem and responding to it . . . Change to super policy will come, sooner or later, but it will come in the form of a little of everything we don’t much fancy, after working through some stuff that is hard: accurately sizing the problem, having some mutual respect and good will, a bit of a rise in the age of eligibility, maybe a bit of means testing, better use of capital assets in retirement, longer working lives.
Bernard Hickey is a financial journalist who runs the www.interest.co.nz website, “blogging on interest rates, economics and business in New Zealand”. He’s a pretty opinionated guy, and while I disagree with him at least as often as I agree with him, he’s usually got something interesting to say. Hickey has long been an advocate of the need to address this issue, but this post is primarily reportage of Gabs Makhlouf from the Treasury’s presentation at the conference. (He kindly links to my column, as well.)
What’s your view on this issue? What, if anything, needs to be done to secure the future of New Zealand superannuation? Will the policy need to change, and, if so, now? Leave a comment below!
Centre for American Progress – The Generation Gap on Government: Why and How the Millennial Generation Is the Most Pro-Government Generation and What This Means for Our Future
CAP is a US think-tank led by Bill Clinton’s former Chief of Staff John Podesta (Matthew Yglesias, oft-cited here, is also a Fellow of the Centre). I’ve been watching CAP’s Doing What Works project for a while and will write something up based on some of that work in the near future. In the meantime, however, I thought these survey results were worth sharing:
young Americans age 18 to 32 give the government more positive performance ratings and more strongly favor a significant role for government in addressing national challenges than does the public at large. (read more)
John Kay - Capitalism looks back to the future
Our friend John Kay reviews a new book Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy by Anatole Kaletsky, editor-at-large of the Times, probably the least politically-aligned of the quality UK daily newspapers. It looks like an fascinating book about the past and future development of global capitalism, but I was also interested by Kay’s comments:
The collapse of Capitalism 2 [the Keynesian era] was not caused by Nixon, nor the collapse of Capitalism 3 [the deregulated era] by Mr Paulson: the collapse of these modes of capitalist behaviour was the product of their own internal contradictions, to borrow a phrase, and Capitalism 4 can only thrive if it resolves the contradictions of Capitalism 2 more effectively than did the politicians of the era of the Great Society and “you’ve never had it so good”.
Bryan Walker (Hot Topic/Sciblogs) – Technology advances, politicians hold back
LSE Centre for Economic Performance – Reducing Crime: More Police, More Prisons or More Pay?
Paul Hamer (Institute of Policy Studies) – The impact on te reo Māori of trans-Tasman migration