NZ Herald: Comment – We’re talking about my generation

Dr Andrew West, Chairman of Innovation Waikato and Chief Executive of AgResearch, says that his generation has let New Zealand down.

Dr West, who will be speaking today at the ARMS 2009 conference, says that New Zealand should consider turning its running over to those under 25, as those who are older have been responsible, in large part, for New Zealand’s steady decline over the last 60 years.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“If our generation had been the management team our Board of Directors would have sacked us by 1965 at the latest. Somehow we have disgracefully hung on for a further 45 years.

“In that time we have overseen our standing in the OECD steadily fall and have suffered the ignominy of countries that we once determined to be unsophisticated pass us by. Just this past week it was reported that the district health board where I live could not bequeath its unfit-for-use hospital beds to developing countries because many of these countries were already using better beds.

“How bad does it have to get before we act? The data that clearly indicate what is wrong have been with us for years; we simply need the courage to be decisive.

“By far the most serious issue is the gross misallocation of capital in New Zealand. Productivity data tell the story. Whilst in more recent times we have achieved high levels of labour productivity – that is, mobilising people into paid work and making the most out of them – our total or multifactor productivity growth rate is almost static. The explanation is that we are investing our capital into unproductive assets, or assets that only return poorly.”