Bernard Darnton finds a government scheme so good it should be made ten times bigger.
To dispose of the obviously sacrificial comedy proposal first: let’s not build a country-length cycleway. Bicycles are children’s toys and children shouldn’t be allowed out to roam the backblocks of the South Island when they should be doing their homework. Regardless, anyone who has done their homework on this proposal will know, as many commentators have already pointed out, that we already have a perfectly good cycleway running the length of the country. We just need to lift the rails and sleepers.
The cycleway proposal only existed to deflect attention from the second proposal. That worked because I can’t remember what the second proposal was.
The dubious honour of being the “best” idea to come out of the Jobs Summit goes to the nine-day fortnight. The idea being that if we all do ten percent less work the country will get richer again. Presumably this idea is based on the observation that a lot of millionaires just swan around on superyachts and otherwise do bugger-all all day.
If doing ten percent less work will make us just rich enough to ride out the recession perhaps we could all do fifty percent less work and then we’d have scads of time for margaritas with Miss September in the Bahamas.
When Caribbean frolics with centrefolds are one of the possible options it’s no surprise that EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little described John Key’s five-hours-at-minimum-wage suggestion as “underwhelming.”
Just tangentially, Little is also president of the Labour Party, so he must be working a twenty-day fortnight at the moment. Selfish bastard hogging two jobs at a time like this. What about the workers?
Mocking the idea that working nine days is better than working ten assumes that said work involves producing something that someone else wants. That means creating goods and services. Not sitting in meeting rooms gazing without focus past PowerPoint slides on A Vision for Empowering Stakeholder Awareness Strategies. Or anything about Key Process Initiative Frameworks. Or Implementing Sustainable Commitments. Or Maximising Outcome Enhancements. Or … Christ, before it gets worse, please, just boil me in skunk urine.
There are thousands of people in the Molesworth Quarter who would become instantly more productive if their working weeks were cut short – by virtue of their current negative productivity. There are hectares of offices full of people who consume the wealth generated by taxpayers in every wrinkle of this country and do nothing but get in the way of those who feed them.
So perhaps the idea of the nine-day fortnight isn’t such a bad one after all. If it could be switched from the private sector to the public the advantages could be huge. Even if there were no corresponding pay cuts the country would be better off because those that do produce wealth would be freer to just get on with it.
Having proved the worth of the nine-day fortnight for public servants we could experiment with an eight-day fortnight. And then a seven. By then it would be clear that the recipe for New Zealand’s economic success is the scheme’s ultimate conclusion: the public sector none-day fortnight.
* * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *