Bob Jones has a brilliant solution for solving housing affordability and the supposed housing crisis.
I have a solution which may induce initial antagonism, but viewed calmly, it’s perfectly logical. National’s policy of providing more cash for first-home buyers is certainly not addressing Auckland’s problem. Instead it will heighten it by increasing demand, although outside of Christchurch it will have merit in assisting first-home seekers.
Recently, we legislated that our worker standards must apply to foreign trawlers fishing our waters. On face value that appeared virtuous. In fact, it’s utterly hypocritical.
Our living standards rely on incredibly cheap goods from Asia. They’re cheap thanks to low labour costs, as on the foreign fishing boats. So to be consistent, why not impose the same fishing boat rules to imported goods? There are two answers.
First, in terms of moral inconsistency, it’s analogous to the abortion debate. What can’t be seen, namely Chinese factories and unborn babies, conveniently doesn’t count.
The second excellent reason is that free trade is unquestionably mutually beneficial, and as with Japan and increasingly Korea, in a few years, fast-rising Chinese living standards will see this low labour cost manufacturing continue its westward move to Southeast Asia, then the Indian sub-continent, and if robots haven’t by then killed off menial jobs as inevitably they will, then on to Africa. Everyone’s a winner.
Actually, minimum standards are imposed by America, albeit not the same as Western equivalents. A few years ago I met a young American woman in Bolivia who was taking a break from her job as an inspector overseeing Caribbean factory and labour standards.
If they weren’t up to scratch she could block their exports to the US. Her concerns were wages and working conditions. America has similar inspectors in Asia following a public clamour after revelation of some Chinese factories’ then appalling standards.
So accepting that low Asian labour costs are mutually beneficial, the answer to attaining a mass supply of housing in one fell swoop, is to emulate Dubai and, as a one-off exercise, import an army of cheap sub-continent labour. Dubains reject manual work, aside from which they’re too small in population to achieve what they have without outside help.