Whether we like it or not, even whether we want to acknowledge it or not, this is a contest, and we are in danger of losing it.
There is no doubt the health approach we took over Covid has been successful.
You can argue, and I do, that we should have locked down sooner, maybe a week or so than we did, we should have quarantined rather than self isolated ... given the confession from the police around all the doors they didn't knock on to check.
So in a nutshell, we could've taken an already impressive response and truly nailed it.
But something has happened between the health and the economic side of the equation.
Here we are stuck in level 2, with any number of people arguing the absurdity of it all.
The damage we are doing to ourselves by being so fantastically obsessed with the health side of this mess runs the increasing risk of the economic problems being exacerbated.
The carnage already is too great.
The problem is twofold.
First, the cost of paying for it is into the tens of billions, not a cent of which we actually have.
It, to this point, is largely a welfare-cum-debt response; there are billions going out in subsidies, handouts and stop-gap loans, and very little in terms of a rebuild.
We have billions for shovel-ready infrastructure, and yet not a single project under way or even announced.
We have a massive retraining programme, with no indication of who's getting retrained, into what, and by when.
Who is co-ordinating it? Are we matching skills to work? Or simply letting unemployed people "rediscover" themselves?
Do we even know if the newly jobless want to retrain, or hold out for the so-called bounce-back and resume where they left off?
What are we doing for labour in the areas that have traditionally been filled by migrants?
Can they be filled locally, and given we don't know that, will the Government force people off welfare into work, or will it take its previous approach pre-Covid, which was to stick increasing numbers on Jobseeker, seemingly with no questions asked, given at the time there was work aplenty ... and yet for the previous two years the numbers grew by more than 14,000 per year.
How, we used to ask, can you have massive job vacancies and a growing dole queue? And if that was the norm then, what changes it now?
But second, and here is the really worrying aspect of all this, as highlighted by Adam Creighton's well read and spread article last week out of the Australian newspaper, along with Fraser Whineray's widely publicised letter. (Whineray, of course, being the former head of the Prime Minister's business advisory council.)
Both men argue Australia economically is beating us, it has done, and is doing a better job than New Zealand.
Its lockdown was less severe, more business was conducted, construction didn't stop, nor did the takeaway coffee or the haircuts.
And, as it surges forward, it has another tactical and tangible advantage.
It deals in natural resources and Queensland and Western Australia especially are poised to lead the recovery by digging stuff out of the ground and selling it to China. In New Zealand, we sadly have no such desire.
More's the pity given another letter, last week, this time from West Coast leaders, which was asking for permission to mine. And in doing so, asking for no state money to help ... but plenty of jobs nevertheless as a result.
Back in Australia, as it expands its resources sector, it needs labour.
Go back a decade, before we got to be a rockstar economy and the traffic from New Zealand to Australia was embarrassingly one way.
You may remember the TV ads in the 2008 election campaign where John Key talked of the stadiums full of Kiwis that were flocking across the Tasman for high-paid work in the resources industry. That got turned around, because our economy got turned around.
A decade on, obsessed with our health experiment, but seemingly blind to the economic carnage as a result of it, we may well face history repeating itself.
Do you honestly think the bright and resourceful, the skilled and experienced, having lost their jobs in a fashion they could never see coming, are going to sit by and watch their prospects, futures and dreams be put on hold ... or even worse ... welfare? Especially when just three hours away is a country that offers work, a future, and an attitude to Covid and adversity that's a lesson in balance, risk, common sense, and will ultimately pay greater economic dividends.
The tragedy is the Prime Minister, who refuses to see and act on any of this, is the very person who set up the committee to advise her on such matters ... and when the letter arrived from Mr Whineray telling her of the threat, instead of appreciating the expertise, she binned it.