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  • rmacculloch

Ardern & Robertson's Well-Being Budgets smashed the well-being of young Kiwis and turned NZ into a happy retirement village

When NZ's Worst Finance Minister Ever, Grant Robertson, retired from politics to become Vice Chancellor of Otago University, the Spinoff reported, "As finance minister & alongside Ardern as PM, Robertson helped spearhead a “wellbeing” approach to government funding, seen most prominently under his successive “wellbeing budgets”. This first began in 2019, with five key areas being targeted including mental health and child wellbeing". Let's see how they did targeting "well-being". Over the period from 2006-10 to 2021-23, NZ experienced its biggest decline in well-being since records began. Out of 134 countries, we experienced the 26th biggest drop (see below). What group drove the decline? The young. By contrast, the elderly in NZ rank amongst the happiest, at 6th in the world. Although happiness has decreased in all age groups, our young (aged < 30 years old) are now, in 2021-2023, the least happy age group. This is a big change from 2006-2010, when the young were happier than those in midlife groups, and about as happy as those aged 60 & over. The drop was greater for females. Young Kiwis now rank around 27th in the world.

For a government that targeted the mental health of the young, it could not have done more to destroy their lives. How did Ardern, Hipkins & Robertson manage it? First, they destroyed meritocracy in NZ, whereby the young who had tried hardest & done the best could expect to receive the best job offers & opportunities. Instead the achievements of our youth stopped mattering - other factors came into play to determine whether you would be successful, all in the name of equity. Countries that ditch efficiency to put their entire focus on equity end up with nothing to be divided equally amongst everyone. Second, we knew at the time of the second lockdown at the end of 2021 that it was the elderly who were the chief benefactors. The young, who had only the tiniest of chances of being badly afflicted by Covid, had their education and futures sacrificed. It now shows up in the statistics. The elderly are having a ball in NZ whilst the young sink into despair. I almost fell off my chair in 2022 when, in the middle of that year, a student said to me that my class was his first "in-person", not-online, experience during his entire course of study. The whole of 2020, the whole of 2021, and half of 2022 had been wiped in tertiary institutions as students went off campus and on-line.

How ironic that the former Finance Minister, who did so much to lower the well-being of the young, is now the boss of University taking charge of the education of the young.

Change in Wellbeing from 2006-10 to 2021-23



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