Just take what you need.

 I have said in this column that I think our government has handled the Covid19 situation very well.

There are rumblings in various corridors though, to the effect that it's all gone too far and we are sacrificing the economy on the altar of caution. Of course the leader of the opposition is busy saying that we should be out of Level 3 as of now, and that small businesses are the victims of the government's carefulness and placing of human life before money - it's kind of hard to say in a way that isn't, well, uncaring, expedient, and materialistic. To be fair to him - there is not a lot else he can say - and he has to say something doesn't he?

I read an article this morning in which the writer, Damien Grant, wrote that the government's wage subsidy scheme "was a massive waste of cash as most of the employers who took it, including me, didn’t need the subsidy and were going to retain their staff anyway. Most firms that were going to fail before they got $7000 per employee are still going to fail".

Really? Am I really that naive that it comes as a suprprise to me that a large part of the business community has treated the scheme as a bonus cash handout? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - I spoke to a man a few days ago who works for one of the big banks - he said some large corporate tenants have taken the opportunity to stop paying rent for a while and their message to their landlords is something like "We're not going to pay the rent for 4 to 6 months and then we might just pay some of it - and you will either have to reach a settlement with us or take us to court." I imagine that is the last thing a landlord wants to have to do, and it belies an uncaring and cavalier attitude on the part of the tenants.

In a separate conversation I mentioned to a small business owner that I, as a self-employed person, was considering applying for the wage subsidy myself since a large part of my cashflow, being dependent on cafes, has evaporated. The response was "Well you may as well, because you can be bloody sure everybody else is".

Surely the only thing that should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to apply for the subsidy should be "Do I/we need it?". As Damien Grant pointed out above, a lot of companies which don't need it have taken it.

And then of course when it all has to be paid back, which it inevitably will, there will be people wringing their hands and saying that the government of the day put New Zealand into an untenable situation by handing out vast amounts of borrowed cash.

I am sure a lot of people got the subsidy because they needed it, and some people will survive this crisis because of it. That is a good thing, that is what it is there for. And it will be the case that the ultimate failure of many businesses will simply have been delayed by it.

As for those who helped themselves just because they could - the government has made the rescue package available - an honest, altruistic, and commendable move - don't blame them or anyone else for the ultimate cost of it when you have taken it dishonestly.


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