Do we need the same job as our friends: The country edition

Via Kiwiblog I see that another member of the Labour party is shooting themselves in the foot, again.  This issue has been done to death, and we’ve already had Dim Post and No Right Turn discuss the ridiculousness of what was stated.

But I’m an economist, I don’t care about “politics” in this party sense – and I especially don’t care when it is just someone making a dumb-ass statement that they don’t really mean.  Given I don’t think Clare Curran wants to remove democracy, what really concerned me more was at the end of the post:

Our economies are too important for the juggernauts of China and other bigger nations to turn us into service economies.

This appears to be saying that New Zealand shouldn’t focus on the things it has a comparative advantage over – instead it should be looking to model itself like other countries, larger countries who have greater scale and greater advantages at making things like manufactured goods.  I find this strange.

Although I don’t like comparing countries to individuals, one clear way to see this from my perspective is to think about me.  I am a service economy.  I have to admit it works pretty well for me, I get to write, I get to do economics all day AND I get to trade income from this to rent a house and buy a computer … excellent.

If other people are investing in making computers better, and improving the quality of the rental stock – that is GREAT for me.  It would be weird for me to then say “hell, I need to start building my own computers”.

Yet this is exactly the sort of few that Curran is trying to push – she seems willing to lower living standards in New Zealand and among our trading partners, just so we can make the same stuff as them (but more poorly).  For me, it is this sort of thinking that is preventing me from voting Labour – far moreso than the latest political gaffe by one of their MPs.

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