Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Time to Return to Reality

The New Zealand All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup on Sunday night, in case you hadn't heard. Like most New Zealanders, I watched and celebrated the win and was pleased that we were able to win it for the second time, matching South Africa and Australia in successful campaigns for the Webb Ellis Cup.

But now is the time for New Zealand to return to reality. The Rugby World Cup won't reduce the $380 million per week that the Government is borrowing to pay for its profligate expenditure (a third more than it takes in revenue). Nor will it restore New Zealand to the top ranks of OECD nations in income per capita (we currently languish at the bottom on the list). It won't help rebuild Christchurch or fund the more than $18 billion of losses sustained in the earthquakes. It won't address the disenchantment of many New Zealanders who feel they are being treated as second class citizens in a country that now treats Maori as a special elite. It won't stop our best and brightest workers emigrating to countries with better opportunities. It won't reduce our terrible youth (and older age) suicide rates. And it won't eliminate the violent crime that results in imprisonment rates that are second only to the USA.

These things will take a greater courage than that shown by the All Blacks in defending their narrow lead on Sunday night. For the All Blacks courage, without detracting from its merit, was a physical courage. Solving New Zealand's problems will require a moral courage that I'm not sure any of our current political leaders are capable of showing. Perhaps the All Blacks' win will inspire them. I certainly hope so.

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