Andrew Dickens: The post-pandemic hangover is affecting the whole world

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Manage episode 328543718 series 2381161
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Welcome to budget week and welcome to the immediate aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
Is the pandemic over? No, far from it.
Temporary labour shortages as the virus works its way through the population means everything will be difficult for some time yet. Nearly half our music station staff were off last week after one company super spreader event. Productivity was knocked for 6. Who needs the Government to lock us down when we do it to ourselves.
Meanwhile, the post-pandemic hangover affects the whole world and it's having a political fall-out.
In Australia, Scott Morrison looks in doubt as Labour blames him for a cost-of-living crisis. In America, Biden is losing ground because he's blamed for a cost-of-living crisis. Boris Johnson will be lucky to survive as Labour hammers him for a cost-of-living crisis.
All the Governments that have steered the world through Covid are now being made to pay for it.
They're being blamed for the profligate spending that kept businesses afloat. But at the time they were blamed during lockdowns for not doing enough. There's no pleasing some people.
But as Liam Dann pointed out in the weekend, simplistic tribal politics is the driver of opinion and not reasoned economic debate.
So, on Thursday Grant Robertson will announce his government spending. $6 billion dollars' worth it's said. On health and climate change mostly.
Already many people are criticising the spending without knowing what it is.
National's Christopher Luxon criticises spending unless it's targeted.
And he's criticising the Government for not having spent more money on ICU beds. He says that's what he'd invest in.
So, I'm not sure he understands what that means. I'm not sure that we all do.
An ICU bed is nothing. It's a bed and some kit.
The problem is the staff for that bed.
It takes six nurses a shift to staff an ICU bed. That's 18 nurses a day.
But New Zealand is already 4,000 nurses short.
So, if you want more ICU beds first you need to find more nurses. Thousands and thousands more nurses. They don't grow on trees. And you have to pay them. Pay them well. Better than they are now. Because you will have to attract nurses from overseas. Plus, you'll have to train new ones. If you can find them.
Honestly. Fixing health problems is going to cost 10s of billions of dollars because of 40 years of underinvestment since Rogernomics.
So, is it right to criticise the Government for spending on something that we should have spent on before? Is waiting till better times truly prudent?
The question is, if not now, when?

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