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Is He Worth It?

Entry 1020, on 2009-05-28 at 21:17:39 (Rating 3, Politics)

Many people around the country, and around the world, are having to survive on lower incomes, often as a result of voluntary pay reductions to help the company they work for survive. This makes excessive payments to government advisors even more controversial than usual.

So should the New Zealand government be spending up to $2000 a day for a "private purchase adviser" (I don't know what that is but it sounds ominous) working for finance minister Bill English? Is the fact that he was a member of one of the government's minority parties relevant? And does the claim that up to three times as much is spent on lawyers make the whole situation better or worse?

Prime minister John Key has said that he doesn't think it's excessive in the sense that the advisor has got a lot of responsibility in terms of giving good quality advice. Oh really? And will he refund the fee if his advice turns out to be faulty? No, I don't think so. He'll just take the money for giving out his opinion and say "thanks suckers".

And I think we have a good idea of what sort of political bias a previous member of the ACT party might have. I think I would be prepared to pay $2000 a day for him to stay away and not give us his advice!

But isn't it worth the cost to get good information which could be used to save many times more than what is spent? I don't think so. First, I think in this particular case the person is hopelessly politically compromised. What's the point in a right-wing party getting advice from a former right-wing party member? They're not likely to get a fresh perspective on whatever problem they are studying.

Also, I don't trust anyone who is primarily motivated by money. I'm sure there are some extremely skilled, and far less biased people in places like universities who would offer expert advice for far less. So why not use these people? Probably because the politicians might not get the answers they want.

The other point is that even if paying this sort of rate is usually justifiable, and even if it can be justified now from a practical perspective, shouldn't our leaders be setting some sort of example of how to achieve more while spending less?

As for those $6000 a day lawyers. If we have got to the point where getting legal advice costs that much then I think its time we backed away from having so many complex laws. Its not so much that we spend too much money for expert information, its more that we spend it on the wrong people: you will never make any progress by listening to lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors who are only prepared to help the country if you pay them enough!

You might have noted that I haven't commented on the real big news of the day: the budget. I think I'll leave that until tomorrow, although I would have to say its barely even worth commenting on.

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Comment 1 (2066) by SBFL on 2009-06-04 at 09:26:10:

Since you're obviously not familiar with the business concept of procurement ""private purchase adviser" (I don't know what that is but it sounds ominous)" ...I would assume you work in a university as opposed to the real world.

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Comment 2 (2067) by SBFL on 2009-06-04 at 09:31:04:

BTW, when I saw this post title in your index "Is He Worth It?" dated 28-May I assumed you were a psychic (considering the Richard Worth affair that came to light on 03-June).

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Comment 3 (2076) by OJB on 2009-06-04 at 22:25:19:

Still not sure what a private purchase adviser does (apart from stealing money fro the taxpayer). Is he a private person who advises on purchases or a person who advises on private purchases, or what? Also, in what way is a university less real that other institutions in our society?

You're right about the psychic thing. I was wondering if you would notice. Actually people often say I'm psychic... oh wait, that was psycho!

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Comment 4 (2078) by SBFL on 2009-06-05 at 10:10:22:

"Also, in what way is a university less real that other institutions in our society?"
...I honestly can't choose from the list of smart answers to this question!!

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Comment 5 (2083) by OJB on 2009-06-05 at 17:31:45:

Really? Why not give me a few of your best smart answers (I like that sort of thing) but also give me a serious answer. I'm actually quite interested in what other people think of universities.

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