Thursday, July 12, 2007

Youth Parliament tells us a little about government

Can anyone tell me why observers came from a military dictatorship - Myanmar - to observe this rather peculiar activity? What could they learn that they could even talk about in Myanmar?
Why is there a Ministry of Youth Development, and how did almost everyone I know cope, grow up to be happy, healthy, productive, non-criminal adults without our parents being forced to pay for it? Maybe because our parents gave a damn, didn't get paid to give a damn, and (by and large) got things right?
What is positive about encouraging young people to think government can solve problems? Did anyone teach them that the fundamental question of government is between doing nothing and doing something, and almost everyone involved in this never asks the question "should the government back off?".
Maybe the list of topics their "select committees" considered will enlighten one as to the politics of this exercise?

1. Are we the Pacific scrooge? Why have we not met the 0.7% target for ODA? Well, it COULD have said, should the government reduce aid in favour of tax cuts and letting the private sector assist foreign countries? So this is a leftwing proposition.

2. Has the student loan system created an unfair burden for a new generation of New Zealanders? Could have said, is it fair that the general public continues to be forced to pay over 75% of the cost of university education, whether they received such an education or not, and students only pay 25%, when the average university student typically goes on to earn above the average wage? So this AGAIN is a leftwing proposition.

3. How can we keep more young people in upper secondary school, including should there be a higher leaving age and/or a minimum achievement level for leaving school? Could have been, WHY should we keep more young people in upper secondary education, when there is a substrata of around 20% who are barely literate? How could the education system better deliver outcomes tailored towards the needs of students? Not so much leftwing, but assumes the proposition is a good one.

4.How can we prevent young people joining gangs and reduce violent offending? Could simply be, how can we reduce violent offending, the notion that you can prevent gang joining is almost absurd. Not really political, only the insane could argue against violent offending.

5. Is it fair to tax under 18 year olds at the same rate as over 18 year olds? Could have said, is taxation theft (but that would be seen as "right wing" and we can't have right wing propositions can we, although we have left wing ones). Arguably left wing, as it promotes progressive taxation to some degree.

6. New Zealand roads are the leading killer of young people, what can be done? Could be, New Zealand roads are the safest they have ever been on a per vehicle km basis, what responsibilities do young people have to be accountable for the accidents they cause. Slight statist bias (not left or right wing) and feeds the road toll obsession.

7. What should the focus of our youth justice system be? Finally a truly neutral question!

8 . Should New Zealand allow the therapeutic cloning of stem cells? Also a neutral question!

9.Should Party Pills (BZP) be illegal? Again, neutral.

10. Was the National Certificate in Educational Achievement a good idea? Banal, it could be more clever as to "what would be the best way for schools to recognise educational achievement"


So all in all, the Youth Parliament had a somewhat leftwing, statist bias - why should you be surprised, it is organised by bureaucrats from a Ministry that didn't exist a few years ago (hear that John Key?)


However, check out the list of questions bureaucracies sent in for select committes. All in all, you can say the following about them (my criteria was whether the questions assumed more government intervention or whether the government had a role in the issue concerned):

ACC: balanced

ALAC: Statist (assumes state should define role of alcohol for private citizens)

Children's Commissioner: Highly Statist

Creative New Zealand: Totally Statist

Department of Corrections: Somewhat Statist (but it is a core government function)

Department of Internal Affairs: Somewhat Statist

Department of Labour: Meaningless

Families Commission: Totally Statist

Health and Disability Commissioner: Highly Statist

Health Research Council of New Zealand: Balanced

Human Rights Commission (HRC): Totally Statist, leftwing and possibly racist (Why are "Asian Immigrants" a topic?)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH): Highly Statist and nationalistic

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF): Somewhat statist, slightly leftwing

MED: Slightly statist.
Ministry of Health (MoH): Slightly statist
Ministry of Transport: Slightly statist
Ministry of Women’s Affairs: Totally statist

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise: Totally statist

SPARC: Totally statist

Te Puni Kokiri: Unclear

Transit New Zealand: Somewhat statist.



ABC said...

"How did almost everyone I know cope, grow up to be happy, healthy, productive, non-criminal adults?" And why do many people - most of our incarcerated population, for instance - NOT grow up like this?

Good questions. Someone should study them and find an answer. But who would have an incentive to undertake such a large task? No-one, of course - the personal gain is too little.

Such research would be a 'public good', hence will not be efficiently privately provided. Only collective action will bring the economy close to the efficient level of research into such questions. That collective action is one of MSD's jobs.

libertyscott said...

That perhaps is why people do post-graduate study? I don't disagree that the criminal justice system should understand why crimes occur, but the bottom line is - in most cases - it is because people choose to commit them.