Productivity problems

Over at Policy Progress, David Choat reminds us to be careful looking at productivity stats.  This is true.

I have heard arguments against looking at productivity (here and here) and for looking at productivity (here and here).  If you click the links you will see that each time it is actually the same person talking – me.

Now does this make me viciously inconsistent?  Hopefully not.  Ultimately, the idea of productivity is essential – and yet the statistics of it are not so useful.

Although getting productivity is good, as it means we can have more stuff for the same inputs, it doesn’t make sense as a target for policy.  When it comes to policies trying to actually sit down and quantify the ACTUAL costs and benefits of policies is the way to go, using productivity stats is a good way to cloud and ignore some costs.

Another post on technology should really come up on this blog.  And one day it will – but not today.

Update:  On that note it looks like we are making a waste of times comm… opps sorry, productivity commission in New Zealand now.  It would make more sense to just spend the funds on improving the quality of actual cost benefit analysis – but then we wouldn’t be able to make up a fancy new commission with new letterheads would we!   The Act party needs to show its relevance by increasing spending after all doesn’t it …