Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So what now kiwi lovers of less government?

Some voted for National in 2008 to get rid of the big government "the state is sovereign" leadership of Helen Clark. Labour openly preached what it saw as the benefits of government spending more on health, education, welfare, housing and subsidising business. It also created new bureaucracies, gave local government almost unlimited powers to do what it wished with ratepayers' money and sought to tell people how they should live, for their own good.

Labour unashamedly embraced big government, a partnership where the iron fist of state regulation, tax and subsidy would direct the economy, and all major areas of social policy.

National was thought, by many, to offer something different, a change in direction, suspicion of the state, belief in less taxes, less state intervention in the economy, and being more open about choice in education, health care and superannuation.

After all, National offered part of this in 2005, and to a limited extent went in that direction (haphazardly and inconsistently) between 1990 and 1999. Isn't it fair to assume a change in government is a change in direction?

Well no. You see this National government runs deficits, doesn't reduce the size of government, spends more on state health and education, maintains the national superannuation ponzi scheme and has continued to subsidise and interfere with the economy. Property rights are no better off. National is being what it is used to being - a conservative party that keeps what Labour did before and tinkers.

To be fair to National, John Key didn't offer too much more than that in the first place. So some thought it was right to vote ACT.

Bringing Sir Roger Douglas back into the fold gave some hope that a Nat-Act coalition could see one of NZ's two bravest former Finance Ministers having a key role in Cabinet. After all, if Labour scaremongered over Douglas, it wouldn't be hard to ask why Clark, Cullen, Goff and King would complain about a man being in Cabinet who THEY all shared Cabinet with. However, John Key (and the National Party) are political invertebrates.

So ACT got Rodney Hide as Minister of Local Government. Well that was something. Time to reverse the Labour/Alliance "powers of general competence" granted to local government, time to at least cap rates to inflation, time to have local government protect rather than abuse property rights.

No. Not only did it mean none of that, but the Nats took Labour's Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland Governance, and implemented almost all of its recommendations. A new big Auckland council, with almost unlimited powers to do as it wishes.

Is that what ACT voters wanted? Bigger, stronger local government?

No. Same with the dabbling with the "hang 'em high" crowd represented by David Garrett.

ACT had potential, it did believe in less government once, it did have senior leaders who would talk the good talk. As flawed as Rodney Hide is, and Sir Roger Douglas, there were more than a few occasions when one could say "bravo".

However, ACT's first real chance at power (it wasn't part of the 1996-1999 National led governments) hasn't just been disappointing, it has even seemed counter-productive.

So what now?

The obvious answer I would give is to offer Libertarianz, although some may say it is still a small party, and many have harbour hesitation whether those within it have the capability or the interest in stepping up to be a serious electoral option for the next election.

So I might suggest this, from afar. It is time for those within ACT and National, who do want less government, less tax, the shrinking of the state consistently, to contact Libertarianz. To attend at least one meeting, and talk about how to move forward.

You don't need to agree with all of the policies, but to believe in the principle of much less government.

No one else is going to do it.


Dave Christian said...

The problem for a libertarian such as myself is that Libz have a very nice house which is surrounded by a minefield.

I regard these words of James Madison as objective fact: " Of all the enemies to liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honours, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people."

I understand that members of a political party will agree on broad principles and yet non-the-less have differing opinions. However, Libz stridency on interventionism too much for me.

The CIA are a statist organisation with exclusively statist objectives. Yet when they issue propaganda to the effect that Iraq or Iran represent a genuine threat to peace and freedom, Libz repeat that propaganda as if it is the unequivocal literal truth.

We also hear the claim that it is acceptable for various 'good' states to manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons, but that it is intolerable for 'bad' states to do the same. So, 'good' states will never become 'bad' states! It is difficult to imagine a more statist presumption.

I don't despise people for having different opinions from myself, but too often it sounds as if Libz people do - and they gun down liberty while they are at it.

KG said...

I don't think the foreign policy of a tiny political party on a couple of islands at the arse-end of the world matter too much.
If the Libz just stuck to "smaller government, more liberty, lower taxes" a hell of a lot of people might be tempted.
But their blind faith in "the market" to run the economy (and by extension, the country) and their insane immigration policy will keep them on the outer fringes forever.

Craig Milmine said...

@KG. Smaller government, more liberty and lower taxes actually means a market economy. How do you differentiate the two?

Jeremy Harris said...

I really don't think NZ will ever be a free market, free country (in the Libz sense) people here are very socialist...

The Aussie are less so and I think right leaning people drift over there a lot...

The best bet is America - it once was the freest place on Earth and could be again, then make the move there...

Berend de Boer said...

The Libz are for freedom except when you're classified as a non-human. Then it's free for all.

No thank you, I won't be joining the objectivist party.

Libertyscott said...

Dave: Given the "bad states" are Iran and the DPRK, if the "good states" even remotely start to replicate them then the Libz are the least of your worries. However, you don't need to accept all Libz policies to be a member, give it a try.

KG: Agree with Craig, and frankly I think the immigration policy only follows the welfare, health and education ones. Not going to be too many coming over when they have to pay for everything themselves.

Berend: What NZ political parties classify humans as non-humans? I assume you are talking about abortion and not animal rights or the rights of inanimate objects? I believe Libertarianz policy on abortion is that the state shouldn't pay for it, but beyond that there isn't a policy about the point at which it shouldn't be legal. I believe ACT and National support forcing everyone to pay for abortions regardless of personal beliefs around them.

ZenTiger said...

Liberty - having the state not pay for abortions would be the most positive step I've ever seen in the abortion debate from a pro-lifers point of view. All the main parties embrace abortion, so that would be one enticement for me to vote Libertarian.

However, I get the impression that the transition program from "present day NZ" to "libertarian land" is something that is expected to take around 4 hours, with an 8 o'clock start to ensure a full lunch hour.

Has that position of insanity changed?

And as for KG's point - a pure market economy could not be risked until NZ has a clear understanding of what property is, and if it is properly protected under law, which I suggest, currently isn't in such a way that would reasonably protect people from the impersonal and sometimes inhumane effects of the market.