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Opportunity lost

17 December 2021

New Zealand has (once again) missed a golden opportunity to turn a crisis into a windfall.

Since CV19 first landed in New Zealand almost two years ago, the government has been handing out taxpayer dollars to a wide range of people, by way of support for those industries worst affected.

Billions of dollars have flowed into the pockets of industries such as tourism, in an effort to ensure that people still had bread on the table and Netflix on their screens.

Qualifying criteria for receiving such handouts was pretty minimal and uptake was strong.

So why didn't we act smart instead of acting so stupid in regards to this?

What am I getting at?

Well huge numbers of Kiwis have effectively been paid to sit on their bums for month after month while they wait out the plague.

International tourism has halted and domestic tourism has provided very little in the way of compensatory revenue. This has meant that the burden of keeping all those people "in a job" has fallen on you, I and everyone else who continues to scratch out a living during these tough times.

So why didn't we use these billions more effectively?

Why, for example, didn't we require those who were sitting at home in receipt of all this money, to learn a new skill -- instead of binge-watching Netflix?

If receipt of this money was contingent on being engaged in some kind of learning programme and passing a minimal level of competency at the end then the money would have been an *investment* in this nation's future, not just a subsidy to offset the effects of a pandemic.

Let me put my WOKE hat on for a minute... oh bugger, it doesn't seem to fit my head at all well... but I'll try anyway...

Why didn't we make it a requirement for all those in receipt of taxpayer wage support to learn Te Reo while they were sitting at home? What a fantastic boost this would have been to the language and awareness of Maori culture at a time it (according to some) is most needed as a tool for bringing everyone together.

I am incredibly opposed to simply giving away taxpayers' money. Any disbursement of the hard-earned wages of others should be performed as an *investment*, not a handout. There should always be the maximum return on that investment, be it social, economic or otherwise.

The government will tell us that these handouts have protected one of our biggest export earning industries (tourism) and they may have done this to some degree -- but they could have done an awful lot more.

(WOKE hat falls off... Thank God for that)

I am sure there are countless things that could have been taught to "subsidised" Kiwis over the past couple of years. Things that would have not only broadened their own personal horizons but also made our workforce more capable and valuable, both to the internal economy and to the global one once the plague passes.

Unfortunately I guess we were too busy "being kind" instead of being practical and pragmatic. Thus a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lift ourselves to a higher level has been lost.

What do readers think? Could we have done this better and offered not just cash but an opportunity for those disadvantaged by the plague to lift their game and thus earn more, have a wider choice of employment opportunities and to pay back the taxpayers' "investment" in them?

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