Suzuki’s keynote speech

Last week Dr David Suzuki presented the keynote speech at our Sustainable Economics Conference.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is Suzuki’s speech.

There will also be an MP3 of his speech available here in the near future.

Also note that the quality might not be so great on parts three and four because they were only just uploaded.

16 Comments Posted

  1. There is no arrangement I know of, neither private nor public, that is immune to the effects of corrupt individuals looking to line their pockets. I am confident that no matter how we do it, there will eventually be a human failing as humans always do.

    Scrutiny of the system and highly public perp-walks of the guilty parties when the corruption is discovered, will be necessary. With the number of redundant banking professionals that would be one of the likely results of this move, a permanent investigative branch with full access and a mandate to discover fishy operations would be one possible response.


  2. “political football where the minister/bank admin can favour cronies and mates?”

    Yes. That was one of the arguments early last century for privatising the Bank of England and it is valid.

    When the BNZ was State owned it was hard for new business to get funding because existing vested interests would always oppose new competition. It was also not very well run because directorships were rewards for political support. Like task forces are now.

    I think we should combine it with real democratic control of the country so a small bunch of cronies cannot take over the system as they do now.

    There are ways of ensuring good management also.

    Realistically I do not think a sustainable economy is going to come from the private sector. Current incentives are all wrong for that to happen.

  3. Socialise the banking sector will how increase my chances to borrow money to create three extra jobs?

    Will they lend on forward projected earnings?

    Not saying that socialising the banks is not a good idea but will it (you only need one) become a political football where the minister/bank admin can favour cronies and mates?

    Much like the ACC has done with the leasing and refurbishing of office space?

  4. “All the proposed internal production, import reduction systems need private sector fund injection.

    How will we do that?”

    Take the funding part away from the private sector where we have to pay a compounding amount of extra money for that funding.

    What we advocate. Socialise the banking sector.

  5. Actually I dont mind decreasing taxes IF it builds investment into tax paying jobs.

    Just increasing taxation does nothing to create jobs and a sustainable economy.

    What is needed is an increase in the volume (not the rate) of tax collected from more and more people.

    To do that we need jobs that are tax paying (not more state tax recipients job creation).

    Surely we should be discussing how to do that, what incentives are to be provided to enable tax paying job creation.

    All the proposed internal production, import reduction systems need private sector fund injection.

    How will we do that?

  6. Like you I believe decreasing taxes at present is the wrong thing to do.
    Already have some suggestions here.

    Note. trying to shift the emphasis of taxation to activities we want to discourage such as short term currency and property speculation and away from activities we want to encourage.

    We have discussed many times ways of reducing imports (especially fossil fuels) increasing the value of exports and internal production to diversify and reduce export dependency.
    Improvements to a our overall balance of payments reduce borrowing and allow more of national income to go to supporting people in NZ.

  7. BJ and Kerry,

    No problems at all with State owned infastructure and services PROVIDED that the taxable sector is large enough to fund these from taxation.

    My argument is not to cut down state owned infastructure and services but to INCREASE the taxable sector to enable proper funding.

    At the moment we are not paying the way in a sustainable and economically viable fashion.

    All I’m asking is that a KPI be set (one of BJ’s new measrement sticks?) where the books are balanced if not yearly then at least against future projected earnings (tax take).

    If we look ahead currently we are still borrowing hugely against our childrens childrens income and this is totally unsustainable economically.

    The crunch is do you cut state expenditure (infastructure and services) OR focus on increasing the tax take.

    I prefer to see the tax take increase and am looking for some forthright discussion on how that may take place.

    So far there is a lot of problem identification, not much problem solving in achieving a sustainable economic future.

  8. A totally centralised publically controlled power supply system has an incentive to reduce costs by reducing consumption.
    A partly privatised system run as profit maximising businesses want to sell as much power at as high a price as possible.
    Just like banks with debt.

    NZ is too small to lose economies of scale for pretend competition.

  9. Gerrit.
    To say that the public sector has no part in the productive sector is wrong.
    Just one example is the huge cost of the private health and health insurance system to the US economy.
    The State sector in NZ supplies healthy workers and a healthy population at a fraction of the cost of the dysfunctional US system.
    A school Teacher is adding at least as much value to NZ production by educating the workers of the future as a person starting an SME is in the shorter term. In fact the SME may not have existed if only a few people have access to education as they do in a country with a limited State sector.

    Sometimes, State provision, like ACC, is valuable not because of its earnings, but because of the extra costs an alternative system would impose.

    Subsidising renewable energy in NZ is valuable because that is billions of imported fossil fuels we do not have to import. Making the country as a whole better off. The fake competition between power companies has removed much of the advantages of scale and efficiency of a centralised system and increased not decreased the costs to everyone, including the export sector.

    This whole trade-able/non-trade-able idea is wrong. What you are saying is if, say infrastructure such as power companies, are public they are not earning for the country and then if they are privatised they magically become trade-able and somehow better.

  10. Gerrit

    I am not convinced that this is where to START… though it is a problem to be sure. The problem is that the public sector you are perceiving also contains maintenance and infrastructure that, of themselves, never create wealth of the sort that is being discussed.

    At the end of the day of course, there has to be an export for every import, and a production for every consumption. We’ve put our production overseas and abandoned it there by-and-large. The issue is not I think, that our public sector is too large in absolute terms, but only in relative terms… which is how I come to the notion that NZ is fully if not over populated already.

    We need to make stuff here, but “cannot compete” with countries that have vast markets and economies of scale and no laws to prevent the destruction of the environment. So how do we function at all? We HAVE to build things here… and teach people to do things here… and make investment in production here a reasonable thing to try to do. If we were to try to chop the public sector first… what would go? It is not like there are a lot of productive enterprises in NZ to absorb the displaced “workers” or “beneficiaries”.

    My take on this is that the CGT and the monetary repatriation taxes and the like, have to be put in place first, to encourage the development of NZ based work, and as that workplace develops shortages the public sector can be cut to provide them. ?

    I haven’t thought it through, so I am not wedded to that opinion. Just considering it. There was a lot of discussion at the conference about “non-productive growth” but that was related to growth which cost more than the gain that was apparent in the growth. More like EROEI for ethanol from corn.

    Given that the 50 pound tax circle funnels into the GST as a strictly positive number, it is rather an indictment of the pervasive usage of that single measurement. So perhaps the FIRST thing to do is to change our measuring stick? If you can’t get a good measurement of what is happening you have stuff-all chance of getting it right.


  11. BJ,

    We can start sustainable economic growth by reducing the public sector (tax consumers) and encouraging the private sector (tax producers).

    Explained very well here, especially the 50 pound tax circle example of the restauranteur and the public servant.

    I somehow feel that serious economic changes will not be voted for, including restaints placed on bank sector activity.

    These conferences are feel good, flag waving, rhetoric without any follow up work.

    Lets hope I’m proven wrong on this score by the Green party.

  12. Well, he did say at the outset that he was going to just say what HE wanted to say :-). There was a fair amount of meat in the conference… it wasn’t about Green party policy but sustainable economics generally.

    One of the issues is asking the right questions. I think a lot of the right questions were asked, and a lot more thought is being given to it. Good conference but only small progress.

    …and I don’t see much of what you are asking for.

    I have provided some notion of how to push my specific barrow by stages, but there is no official party position about it… not yet anyway.


  13. I’m looking forward to when the Green party comes up with “sustainable Economic Growth” policies and action steps to implement them.

    The key note speech to me was entertaining and emotive but short on specifics.

    Sure change the focus from economy to ecology, but where are the proposals, the stategy, the action plan and the measureable gradient steps to achieving the possible?

    The conference was about sustainable economic growth. The speech barely touched on that.

  14. This person is a global treasure. Worth a listen in person, because as he warms to his topic he forgets his age, even as he reminds you how old he is, he seems to grow young, the force of his arguments strengthen and you almost have no choice but to understand.


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