Monday, May 19, 2008

A different 20 point pledge card

Ok, having reviewed ACT's effort and marked it as being, at the very best, barely a pass, here's my go at it. This is NOT Libertarianz policy, consider it maybe a halfway house between it and National, in other words what I think a bold ACT could say.

1. Government waste. Cut all government spending to the lowest of the OECD: These means cutting local government as well as national government, and being bold about waste. A smaller government than New Zealand's competitors is more ambitious than matching Australia, which is bloated by mineral wealth.

2. Cut and flatten tax rates: OK, time to repeat the already announced policies of having the first $10,000 tax free, abolishing the 39% top tax rate AND abolish the 33% tax rate. Drop company tax to 19.5%. That means flat tax at 19.5% for all.

3. Limit local government to core activities: Abolish power of general competence and cap rates, permanently (no inflation indexation). Councils would need to find new ways to raise funds (no new tax powers), and cut spending. Councils would be prohibited from entering into new activities, from subsidising businesses and the arts.

4. Reform the public service: I don't care about limiting Parliament or Cabinet, but let's require all departmental CEOs to give a report within one month of office explaining what would happen if the department was abolished. All must give two options. Those that aren't convincing would be abolished. CEO's of Ministry of Womens' Affairs, Youth Affairs, Families Commission and numerous others would be better resigning and using the time to find a real job.

5. Red tape: Require remaining government departments to report on options to eliminate costs to business, and rely upon contract, tort and private property rights instead of licensing and regulation.

6. Reform the Resource Management Act: Amend the RMA, to make private property rights pre-eminent, and make its primary purpose the extension of private property rights onto rivers, foreshore, seabed, airspace, sight lines, air quality and the like. In other words, create private property rights to enable owners to do as they wish with their OWN environment. Of course it wouldn't look much like the RMA any more.

7. Create a competitive market in education: Yes to education vouchers, extend it to university, but they should only cover half the cost of tuition. Abolish state involvement in early childhood education. Give schools full autonomy on pay and curriculum, make each school into an independent corporate entity.

8. Same in healthcare: Offer insurance model in exchange for tax cut, payment of premiums. Public can opt out of state healthcare and switch insurance providers, or can choose state healthcare which receives budget based on hypothecated tax revenue from those paying for it. Make all government healthcare facilities into businesses again.

9. Reintroduce competition to accident compensation: Competition for employer, motor vehicle and personal accounts. Compulsory cover with review to consider merits of returning right to sue for personal injury by accident.

10. Welfare: Support ACT's announced policy of shifting welfare to unemployment, sickness and invalid insurance, extend to DPB and transfer Kiwisaver to individuals to ultimately replace national superannuation.

11. Immigration: Open door with the following limits. No right to claim welfare or social assistance of any kind. No admission for those convicted of crimes that have NZ equivalents. Must have financial means (or sponsorship) for at least 3 months and airfare to return.

12. Labour reform: Shift employment law to contract law, abolish minimum wage.

13. Privatisation: Sell and give away shares for all SOEs, give away shares in hospitals, schools to the public.

14. Infrastructure: Abolish electricity and telecommunications commissioners. Return Telecom's property rights in its infrastructure, and abolish laws requiring cellphone operators to resell competitors' services. Convert Transit NZ into an SOE and privatise Auckland Harbour Bridge and its approaches, allow road users to contract directly for road use and opt out of fuel tax. Require local authorities to transfer roads into SOE equivalents. Privatisation of water/sewage.

15. Cut the remaining tariffs on imports: Perfect.

16. Free up more land for housing: Abolish urban growth limits, privatise state housing by offering Thatcher style "buy your state house" scheme, use RMA reform to reintroduce private property rights.

17. Strengthen law and order policies: Yes private prisons and get the private sector to do Police work that ISN'T about arrest (e.g. assistance, traffic control) and speed up the courts. However, introduce "points" scheme for crimes. If a criminal gets 100 points, it is permanent detention. Good behaviour inside allows for a 10% discount on sentence and points. Full review of all criminal laws to eliminate victimless crime, legalise medical use of cannabis and review laws on drugs consistent with changes to health and ACC policy (to ensure individuals are accountable for their actions).
18. Climate change: Declare climate change policy to be abolition of subsidies for activities likely to be contributing to climate change (in fact all activities), and reducing taxes on low emission activities (and all activities). Abolishing transport subsidies and price controls on energy will help too. Quite simply, taking pro-freedom steps that are consistent with trying to reduce the theoretical impact of climate change, but nothing else.

19. Strengthen our constitutional framework: Yes to a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, but also abolish the Maori seats, include private property rights and right to control one's body in the Bill of Rights, and eliminate references to the Treaty of Waitangi in all legislation.

20. Appoint mentors to families at risk: All very well and good, but to help this along, abolish additional welfare for children born to families or individuals already in welfare. Also deny convicted serious violent or sexual criminals the right to custody or cohabitate with anyone under 16, or the right to welfare. The stick as well as the carrot.

So there you go, it felt rather unambitious not scrapping the RMA, not introducing a libertarian constitution, not fully privatising schools and hospitals or the roads, or legalising drugs, but well this isn't for Libertarianz, it's for ACT. What do you think?


ZenTiger said...

I think it's great you have put your ideas out for discussion. I'd like to go through these later when I have some time and make comment.

I take the point you have put forward your ideas for an ACT party rather than Libz.

Ignoring my opinion about some of the content for a moment, great stuff.

Libertyscott said...

Thanks for the comment Zen, I know I'm a libertarian but sincerely would like ACT to be pushing things more clearly and being the party of explicit bold reform. Frankly if it took 2-3 terms to advance all I just advanced, I'd be very happy. The sacred cows I didn't slaughter were drug laws, universal welfare, health and education - those are too big for ACT to confront, but I wanted to make the rest as good as it could be.

Ad Libertas said...

Now they are some policies to get the ball rolling!

I particularly like 2 things:

1. You have put in the option for a peoples float of SOE's. IMHO, putting SOE's, schools, universities, etc back into the direct control and ownership of their users (taxpayers, parents, etc) through for-profit or even non-profit ownerships structures might diffuse the negative connotations that privitisation has of selling out cheap to "greedy foreign corporations". Could make it harder to re-nationalise too!

2. Your use of climate change to abolish subsidies. Using one stupid socialist policy to defeat another is genius (as opposed to ending up with both). Their internal contradictions are their Achilles heel.

I wish ACT really had this much conviction. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Also spkg as a libertarian - but from an ACT perspective - I like this, too. I'd like ACT to be bolder given that it appears the Nats won't be anytime soon.

Question re immigration. Obviously I support an open policy subject to the criteria you state, but I've always wondered how we'd prevent the following scenario:

A madman with an agenda, think Iran's Ahmedinijhad, sees an open-door policy and decides to exploit it. You could never validate a criminal record from Tehran. How could you stop somebody like him deliberately sending potential agitators, even terrorists?

Castro did something similar when the US announced an amnesty for Cubans. He sent over convicted criminals & had a field day ...