Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Emigration

I've often argued that American libertarians should give up on changing America and experience more freedom today by moving to New Zealand. I doubt it'll happen: the more obnoxious the TSA becomes, the more convinced I am that there's no point at which American libertarians who talk a lot about the value of freedom would ever be willing to give up the minor conveniences of living close to relatives in a police state.

New Zealand's no utopia, and the earthquakes are a bit annoying, but New Zealand does better in providing the bundle of freedoms I value. Today's example: business freedom. While you can't even open a food cart in New York, businesses in Christchurch whose buildings have been destroyed have been reopening in all kinds of ersatz locations. A great Lyttelton coffee shop, with food service, now runs out of a house's garage and driveway. Imagine the permits and food safety processes you'd need to go through to do anything similar in North America.

For those interested in potential migration, here's Immigration New Zealand's new priority list for speedy immigration consideration. Here's the Immigration New Zealand site with the new skill category listings. Here's the full Essential Skills in Demand list; I think the new changes haven't yet been incorporated into that list. From The Press:
Pig farmers, poultry breeders and motorcycle mechanics are among the skilled workers who will be afforded an easier ride through New Zealand's immigration process from next week.

Immigration New Zealand has updated its Immediate Skill Shortage List, which aims to attract temporary foreign workers to supply skills scarce in the workforce.

Other vocations added to the list include medical technician, electronic equipment trades worker, metal machinist, foundry moulder, clinical coder and baker.

Only one occupation – optometrist – was removed from the list.

Eighteen others were removed from the ISSL but remained on the extended version of the scheme, the Long Term Skills Shortage List, which opens a door for migrant workers to apply for residency at the end of two years.

That list is still populated by engineers, oncologists, surgeons and general practitioners.

Though skill shortages in the medical professions have been much publicised in recent years, the paucity of pig-farming professionals is also high, New Zealand Pork chief executive Sam McIvor said.

"Pig farming, as with many other types of agricultural production, has evolved into a highly skilled occupation requiring technical know-how and accuracy in a host of areas, ranging from animal welfare and disease treatment and diagnosis to optimising livestock nutrition – and everything in between.

"We've welcomed farmers from around the world, particularly southern Africa, the European Union, the Philippines and other Asian countries, with the necessary skills, qualifications and attitude to work."
If it were up to me, and I were constrained against open borders, I'd open a special category for folks willing to open restaurants in underrepresented cuisines. New Zealand is great on Asian and European restaurants, but seriously lacking in Middle Eastern (other than kebab), South American, and African (other than South African) restaurants. There's one Ethiopean restaurant in the country and it's only open one day a week. I'd love to see that change.

11 comments:

  1. "I've often argued that American libertarians should give up on changing America and experience more freedom today by moving to New Zealand"

    I've often, and by often I mean once, said that's dumb.


    "New Zealand's no utopia, and the earthquakes are a bit annoying, but New Zealand does better in providing the bundle of freedoms I value. Today's example: business freedom. While you can't even open a food cart in New York, businesses in Christchurch whose buildings have been destroyed have been reopening in all kinds of ersatz locations. A great Lyttelton coffee shop, with food service, now runs out of a house's garage and driveway. Imagine the permits and food safety processes you'd need to go through to do anything similar in North America."

    How are the "social" freedoms?

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  2. Where do American libetarians stands on gun laws?

    I suspect that could be a clincher.

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  3. @Michael: Social freedoms are the ones where NZ fares relatively best. Hit the links back for prior discussion.

    @Bill: You're definitely right that an American libertarian placing strongest emphasis on gun rights would be disappointed with a move here.

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  4. I looked at the previous posts and studied the issue further and I have to say I don't see NZ as a better place to move.

    Environmentalism is very heavy here, tall poppy syndrome is alive and well, bad gun laws, an equal obsession with alcohol and smoking, anti-business especially big business, more of the same regarding welfare, worse on free speech etc...

    Its a nice place to visit but offers nothing much that is better to outweigh the negatives

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  5. @Michael: Gun laws here would keep out any American libertarian who puts high value on second amendment rights relative to others. Environmentalism is strong, but not always in crazy ways. I put value on environmental amenities. Tall poppy syndrome: I'm not sure it's any real constraint. The top marginal tax rate is 33% (no state tax on top) and kicks in at a low rate relative to average incomes.

    Alcohol laws: we're more liberal than lots of places in the States. Excise taxes are relatively high. But after that, everything's fairly clean: bars can be open generally when they want, easy to set up a brewery, I am legally allowed to distil alcohol for personal use in my garage if I want. I'd argue pretty strongly that you increase alcohol freedom by moving to NZ. You're right on smoking though.

    Free speech: coin toss on that one. Zero chance I get arrested for swearing in public (Hi Minnesota!). But offensive t-shirts get banned. No chance I get arrested for dancing at a public monument; dance is a form of speech.

    Biggest for me is that we're not a police state. I have no worries that a no-knock raid will catch me through mistaken address. Our police remain unarmed and have to call out the armed offender's squad if they need somebody with a gun. I really like that.

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  6. I have never lived in the US, and only once visited there back in '97 (pre-9/11) so can't really comment on the relative liberties from a day to day perspective. However I feel compelled to touch on two aspects - gun control and airport security.

    My personal stance is that NZ has a better policy regarding private ownership of guns. Yes it is harder to buy a gun here, you have to go though a licencing process, and to have a handgun or military style weapon I believe you need to be a registered collector. But the reality is that you never really need a gun unless you are a recreational hunter or a farmer using a rifle for pest control. I guess maybe its a cultural thing, but I just don't understand the US attitude. Stats would suggest our way is better if you compare firearm related deaths. The US has a rate of somewhere around 15 deaths per 100,000 population, NZ is at about 2.7 per 100,000, and firearm homicides occur at over 40 times the frequency in the US as here. source: wikipedia Guns just aren't as prevalent in NZ society.

    As I said above, I've only been to the US once, and even back then the customs guys were pretty humourless. I can only imagine post 9/11 how big a stick they have lodged up their bums. I have vowed never to visit the US for the simple reason that I refuse to be treated as a criminal, I will not tolerate having my fingerprints taken at point of entry, or being subject to patdowns etc. I see this as a fundamental breach of my privacy and of basic human rights. Clearly the presumption of innocence is no longer integral in the US when it comes to airport security. Many will think this an over-reaction, but the whole thing sickens me to the core.

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  7. Quick addition, I checked the total homicide rates in both the US and NZ, just for fairness sake. The US has a homicide rate of 5.0 per 100,000, NZ sits at 2.2, so it looks like it is safer here as well. I guess you're much more likely to survive an attempt on your life if the perpetrator isn't using a gun though :) Note that the total gun deaths in the previous post include homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. Suicides could possibly be discounted, the rate of suicides is not really a problem with gun control, it is more a social issue, and the means by which someone commits suicide isn't really relevant. I will also note here that NZ (13.2) has a higher incidence of suicide than the US (11.1), so we're certainly not perfect. Once again, the source was wikipedia.

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  8. @Lats: It's awfully hard to draw strong conclusions about firearm prevalence and crime rates. The National Academy of Sciences reviewed the US literature a few years back and said there's probably no effect of differences in cross-state firearm ownership and crime rates.

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  9. @Eric Maybe, but it seems reasonable to link legislation to the availability of firearms, and thus to firearms as a cause of death, be it homicide or otherwise. The second comment re overall homicide rates was meant merely to be a check to ensure that the extra death rate by firearms homocide wasn't simply due to a greater total homicide rate in the US. Perhaps I didn't make that clear. Interestingly accidental death by firearm is something in the rregion of 6.5 times more likely in the US, presumably because a lot more homes have firearms accessable.

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  10. @Eric, Environmentalism is strong and in certainly crazy ways in NZ. There is no denying that this nature worship along with restrictive gun laws is totally off-putting

    As for tall poppy syndrome, I was talking about the attitude of the population in general and I can assure you its high and well. The culture is anti-business to the core. Privatization is a dirty word. Also the average incomes in NZ are pretty low and the marginal tax rate is not something to switch countries for.

    I forgot to mention the labour laws which are employer unfriendly, the labour market which is quite restrictive and the education system, which fosters an anti-conceptual population of illiterates.

    While it may not be a police state it certainly is a nanny state and that doesn't make it any much better or different. As an entrepreneur I get screwed by politicians, an extensive framework of regulations and heavy government ownership of resources and a population/culture that either behaves as children who can't make decisions for themselves or parents who want to make decisions for everyone else.

    As for customs, I've found NZ customs to be distasteful and paranoid, their paranoia shared with US and Australian customs.

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  11. Environmentalism manifests in different kinds of restrictions than in the States, and I'm not sure on the whole worse. RMA is very costly and is used for a lot of rent-seeking. But we also don't have ethanol subsidies (farm with enviro cover). We've a moderate carbon price through an ETS that we were completely mad to adopt before more other countries moved to carbon pricing. But big chunks of our environmentalism work well: the fisheries quota management system was one of the first in the world and is well run.

    Totally agree that privatization is a dirty word. Where the NZ government has a bigish part share in Air NZ (an excellent airline on the whole), the US has a bigish part of a moderately awful car company. Our post office is open to private competition, and that's as good as privatization.

    As for the labour laws, the whole country is effectively a right to work state. Union membership is voluntary. And NZ students I think score better on international rankings than those from the US, but I'd need to double check that. NCEA isn't perfect, but I'm not sure that it's worse than American public schools.

    Totally agree that it's moved toward nanny-statism. It really bugs me, and I spend a lot of my time pushing back against it. On that front, we'd be worse than some US states, but certainly better than others. I've not heard of city-wide trans-fat bans here, for example. And if we take a broader conception of nanny-state, we fare far better: without tort law insanity, there's a lot of stuff that private American places ban because of liability issues that aren't an issue here. We give up the right to sue for punitive damages but get a whole lot of room for private activity. I think it's a decent trade.

    NZ Customs, from the dozen or so times I've crossed, cares mostly about whether you have mud on your shoes acquired while abroad or food that could spread agricultural diseases. Not completely mad for an island with a heavily agricultural economy.

    You're dead right on income differences though. But that too varies greatly with exchange rates. My salary, in US dollar terms, jumps around a lot as the exchange rate moves from $0.75, down to $0.62, and up to $0.82.

    If income and gun rights matter a lot, NZ isn't the best place to move. I value gun rights, but they're only one of a bundle. And I like the overall bundle here relative to the States.

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