Sunday, March 11, 2012

Can You Say "Moo"?

Here in good old clean green New Zealand we seem to be living in a capitalist paradise.

In India, the majourity of people wouldn't make it in any other country based on their incomes. Sure, it's a bad example, as the poor are really poor, but the point still stands. They're able to produce their own goods cheaply.

Contrast that to the price of milk. It's ridiculous. Some of us live in predominantly rural areas where dairy is the biggest trade for the area, or meats, or fruit and vegetables, and the price paid in stores is still shocking. Why? Because the international demand on these goods is high.

It's cheaper to buy New Zealand cheese in Australia than it is to buy it in New Zealand. Which would mean that the prices offered in the New Zealand market are actually higher - an average perhaps? - of International prices. The expenses of selling overseas - shipping, standing up to an individual country's import standards etc. - can't be ignored. And yet, we pay through the nose.

But this doesn't just hold true for dairy. Meat, fruit, wool, seafood even data. As domestic customers we're charged full international rates for national data. Say what you will about the reasons for data caps and other New Zealand Internet costs - the fact that national data costs exactly the same as International rates (for domestic customers) - has got to set off some warning bells.

I'm not a big fan of capitalism. I don't think it works in the way that people think it does. We're fed a bunch of lines as to how it should work, accept a bunch of things that undermine those things that might make it work, and continue to "trust in the system". What becomes apparent though is that capitalism does a lousy job of taking into account people and their contribution to society as a whole.

The majourity of people work their butts off for a pay check though the size of that check doesn't reflect their contribution to society. If it did, nurses, teachers and hospitality staff (when sitting in a bar, I'm always thinking of the fact that I'm having an enjoyable time as a result of the service) would get paid a hell of a lot more than they do.

Look at the other end of the scale. The wealthy are looking at ways of increasing that wealth. It's often a result of having the resources to be able to think in that way. A friend of mine would often talk about the limited opportunities of children in third world countries. Just because we're in New Zealand, we're privileged. They've been convinced to convert to capitalist systems but because they start off poor, the system doesn't work. Their poor remain poor. Their rich become richer. And we in America aren't the kings of the mountain. We have to accept that it's VERY unlikely that a New Zealander will ever be an astronaut for example.

I'm a huge fan of the Yes Men. In one of their films they propose the idea of slavery as a way of getting people treated well. The premise being that the alternative is that they can be fired at a moments notice and there are any number of people willing to take that position - just to have a job. If an employee was owned instead, then you'd be obliged to look after these resources. It was done in sarcasm but the scary bit is that it kind of makes sense.

So the items most effected are food items. Those items we need the most. The exchange rate being up is supposed to mean that we can import goods cheaply but seems to have a negative effect on locally produced goods - because we're paying as if we were living on the other side of the world.

Effectively we're cash cows. Might as well say "moo".

No comments:

Post a Comment