Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An important question for New Zealand to ask itself

Hattip: Slashdot
"The controversial genius developer/writer/entertainer Paul Graham writes an insightful piece on Why Startups Condense in America. Here's the skinny: "The US allows immigration, it is a rich country, it is not (yet) a police state, the universities are better, you can fire people, work is less identified with employment, it is not too fussy, it has a large domestic market, it has venture funding, and it has dynamic typing for careers. Inquire for details within."
Given that New Zealand's future prosperity lies in capturing a healthy slice of the technology and finance wave, how do we compare on the above factors?  Should we be trying to capture the innovation of small startup firms, or looking to lure larger more established players?  Or do you disagree entirely and see New Zealand's GDP growing from other areas - if so what?
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New Zealand - Welcome to your world

Yesterday, more than any day in a long time, I got to feel like we were living in a second world country (I refuse to denigrate the plight of those in truly third world countries, despite that being the first term that comes to mind).
While we in Auckland got to experience another day without power, with the futile promises of TransPower that everything would be back within 2-3 hours, Wellington got cut off from the rest of the north island again - this time by a slick of vegetable oil across its single road out of town, and the South Island in general lost power and roading!

So what percentage of the country yesterday (people or geographical) actually had access to both power and mass transport?  It is a pretty sad situation when that answer drops out of the telco measure of triple 9's into what I would posit was well less than 80%. 

The first thing I think is important to reflect on is actually how well most of the country acted yesterday.  Oddly enough most people were cheerful, courteous and helpful.  My local bakery stayed open solely to act as an EFTPOS terminal for the Chemist and Fruit Store (they had no stock to sell so it wasn't for themselves) as they were probably one of the few places in Auckland that people could try and get their hands on that antiquated measure of currency - physical money.  Despite 300 traffic lights being out there were remarkably few crashes (and despite the occasional lunacy in driving habits).  It is a peculiarity of New Zealand that it seems to take "crises" like this to bring out our inner spirits again and show who we are and could be as a nation.

The second thing that is important to reflect on is how we have let our infrastructure stagnate to its present state.  Please note it is important to differentiate between stagnation and denigration. Successive Governments are to blame for this, of that there is no question in my mind.  However it is up to the present Government to actually do something about it, but do it in a way that does not penalize the current tax payers for their own shortcomings.  It is important not to focus on how this Labour Government has had 9 years to do something about improving infrastructure and has so far failed; just as it is important not to focus on how the previous National Government did not succeed in this area during its terms in office. What is important to focus on is that it is unacceptable for this situation to continue and the investment needs to come now and continue into the foreseeable future.

What were your experiences and thoughts from yesterday?
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