Strange things are happening in New Zealand. Apparently, there is a new plan by the government to make the public well-being a priority. Economic growth, GDP, etc. have all been put aside, and given way to investments in resolving mental health issues, domestic and sexual violence, and improving the lives of children. Are the New Zealanders on a right path, and how is the USA holding in this respect?
New Zealand’s new budget is anything but traditional. The main focus is put on providing for the most deprived categories in a society. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Ms. Ardern, reportedly claimed that she feels the need to see more kindness in politics, and it seems these measures are what she had in mind. We have to agree that it is a brave move, and worthy of admiration. Decisions like this one always trigger debates and rethinking the reality. It has been said that the success of a country is measured by the success and well-being of its most endangered citizens. If we adopt this premise as truth, New Zealand is on its way to become one of the most successful countries in the world.
Experts say that the country of 4.8 million people has recorded the 3% annual growth, which is considered to be quite satisfactory. However, as all societies around the world, New Zealand is challenged by the problems of homelessness, mental health, and domestic violence. The plan to solve these issues includes investing app. $1.25 billion in mental health care, $210 million in fighting domestic and sexual violence, and app. $656 million in improving the lives of children. Care for children should be everyone’s priority and it shows that the government dealing with such solutions is thinking ahead and investing in the future. Furthermore, significant funds have been announced for investing in sustainable economy and low emission.
As for the same issues in the USA, the situation appears to be slightly different. The States have also recorded the growth in economy which is being regarded as one of the most competitive economies in the world. Nevertheless, a bigger GDP does not always mean the higher quality of life for the majority of citizens. The United States, being one of the richest countries in the world, has fallen down on the list of the happiest countries in the world. This is referred to as “progress paradox”. The downside of the progress paradox is widening the gap between well-off and lower levels of society. It would be only logical to assume that the solution to this question is to put people at the center of budget planning, like New Zealand did. As long as we have the means, sky should be the limit to what we can do to improve people’s lives, because this means thinking long term and enabling survival.
Naturally, there are opposite voices in both countries. The primary concern is the fact that institutions could get carried away with putting too much focus on social problems, and eventually neglecting the driving force, i.e. the economic growth. This is an understandable point of view as GDP is what enables the social reforms in the first place. Secondly, there should be debates over whether focusing on social issues eventually leads to the development of a system that does not thrive on capitalism.
Maybe finding the balance should be the solution. We are convinced that we can always do better if we all do the best within the frames of our work and private lives.
Do you think everyone should follow New Zealand’s steps?