Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why voting for Libertarianz can make a difference

It's rather straightforward. Assuming the Nats don't completely drop the ball and Labour can't be Santa Claus, the Nats will be the largest party in Parliament after the next election, by a reasonable margin. I'm expecting the 56% or so in the polls to be more like 45-46% on election night. Anyway, National wont need your vote to do this, hundreds of thousands of people know only that to get rid of Labour they vote National.
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So National will be looking to coalesce with who? Like Labour it will prefer to go to the centre, like NZ First, United Future and, dare I say it, the Maori Party. That's what you face, none of that will scare the electorate at all.
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ACT is proposing 20 changes in policy that are frankly no more radical than the sort of policies that were around in the late 80s, early 90s, IF that. A tax free threshold almost double that of NZ First, dropping the top tax rate (was National policy in 2000). Education vouchers was National policy in 1987 and more market oriented health care from 1990 to 1993 (but got seriously curtailed by lack of courage). ACC competition in 1999. Labour market freedom was 1991. Privatisation was policy from 1987 to 1999. The ONLY Act policy that is a shift beyond that is to shift social welfare to an insurance based model.
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So what happens if ACT gets a sizeable vote, and National needs ACT to stay in power. Well ACT's policies get compromised. You get a smaller tax cut, you probably don't get education vouchers (but get bulk funding), you get ACC competition, but not insurance based welfare. You get RMA reform, but nothing too serious. In other words, you get what is already not that ambitious being less ambitious. Now if ACT pushed the 20 policies I suggested a few days ago instead, then you might get the compromise looking like ACT's CURRENT 20.
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Ah, some may say a more moderate position gives ACT more room to say its policies are reasonable. Well shifting the goalposts to the left means the destination point remains closer to the left too. Rather unambitious for a party putting up the man who pioneered privatisation, proposed flat tax and shifting the entire social sector to insurance based models.
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So how about Libertarianz? Ah your first point is "it's a wasted vote". Well let's just see how important your vote is. Don't forget, for all the hype your head is being counted along with a lot of others - it is a tiny influence, National isn't winning a seat just because of you, neither is anyone. What it SHOULD be is an extension of what you want. If you worry about what other people vote then you're making the influence of others important on your own decision.
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Then you might say "well the policies are lunatic or too extreme". That's your judgment, but let's assume you want a lot less government and want some serious tax cuts and reform. Who is more likely to send the signal that there should be? The party calling for abolition of GST, the first $50,000 tax free and a flat tax, or the one calling for $10,000 tax free and getting rid of the 39% rate. The party wanting an end to state welfare, health and education or the one wanting to reform it with insurance or vouchers? The one wanting to cut it to core functions of law and order and defence, or the one wanting to cut it to - the level of Australia?
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Imagine if there were 6 MPs who always voted no to more government spending on non-core activities and no to higher taxes and no to more regulation of people's day to day lives. Would you rather them or some National MPs? Even if Libertarianz fail to get 5%, imagine if 2% of the vote was for freedom. Other parties would start wondering why they didn't get the 2-3 seats those votes would entitle them too. ACT would certainly be more bold, and the next election more would notice they could vote for freedom too.

Look at the Greens. They influence government and policy considerably, with a core 5% of the vote on the hard left, and they certainly wield influence beyond that number. Shouldn't they be countered by a party of principle on freedom? ACT has had a chance to show it could be as radical as its founder once was, and as radical as it was in 1994. It doesn't seem to want to do that, although if the polls continue to show little change, it may change tactics closer to the election.

So voting for Libertarianz can make a difference, it wouldn't mean Libertarianz would be in government, and it might not mean it is in Parliament, but it does mean you've voted for individual sovereignty over your life, body and property, and for the state to exist to protect not to initiate force. So many people believe that, many vote for second best, and many more vote for third (?) best.
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As the election campaign rolls on, we will see how all the parties perform and for now, I wont be making a final judgment, as much can happen. It is time to be bold politically and stand up for beliefs and philosophies, not pander to fears and prejudices. Your vote is a very small influence, so it should be one that says what you believe in - and that should be more than simply "I want rid of Helen Clark".

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective. You should vote for the candidate and party which best represent your values and wishes. The idea that if you don't vote for the winner you have wasted your vote is misconceived.

Sus said...

Agreed, anon. I believe it was Richard McGrath (?) who recently said: "A conscience vote is never a wasted vote".