Sunday, September 28, 2014
Mike Butler: Nats Left, Right, and Centre
As a reminder, the political Left-Right distinction hinges on ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, with those on the Left believing the state does the best job and those on the Right believing private sector individuals or companies do better.
After the 2008 election, the Key government made no fundamental changes to the smorgasbord of policies inherited from the previous self-consciously socialist (Marxist aka communist) administration under Helen Clark and Michael Cullen.
These policies were expensive vote catchers and included Working for Families that extended welfare to working families including high up in the middle class at a cost of around $3-billion a year or around $58-million a week.
Interest-free student loans were a sop to both the academic friends of the Labour Party who worked at tertiary education providers and to those who wanted to study at a tertiary institute. This costs around $600-million a year.
While Working for Families and interest-free student loans look like over-generous welfare that contributes to a growing entitlement mentality bringing other unintended consequences but nevertheless bring tangible benefits, the Nats have adopted other Left-wing policies that have no benefit whatsoever.
For instance, National government timidity appeared in the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2011, which simply set out to maintain the costs that the emissions trading scheme placed on the economy rather than increase them.
Greenpeace and their friends in the Green Party created a circus at select committee hearings causing the Minister responsible at the time, Nick Smith, to refuse to consider that the so-called global warming that the scheme pretended to address was not happening and hadn't happened for years.
Since then, the Nats appear to have buckled to other Left-wing hobby horses that would have no tangible benefits whatsoever such as paying lip service to fevered claims about child poverty and moving against private landlords by trialing a rental property warrant of fitness.
Be warned, a rental property warrant of fitness will not address coldness, dampness. mould and other issues that arise from the way people live in houses, and would only add costly and irritating compliance requirements for already-stretched property owners.
One thing that did become clear in this year’s general election campaign was that Prime Minister John Key has the courage and tenacity to face down determined opposition. He should use that ability to enact policy based on sound evidence for the good of everyone rather than appearing to do quid pro quo deals to get something across the line.
Builders, developers, and anyone involved in property would be glad to see that the Resource Management Act will be reviewed. I had to pay for a $500 resource consent on top of a $1500 building consent to move a second-hand garage on to a section, a project that cost less than $10,000. Top of the list would be the Treaty of Waitangi lip service clauses that have led to duplication of work and given tribal entities the ability to use stand-over tactics for financial gain in the consent process.
Since the Key-led government appears to have an absolute majority according to preliminary results, here are a few suggestions:
Power price could have been an election issue if dirty politics hadn’t taken over. Power prices have doubled over 10 years, mainly under the Clark socialist government.
The fault with the current market model of electricity prices may be traced to the wholesale market for electricity, where trade takes place at more than 200 pricing nodes across New Zealand every half hour. All power stations get paid at the price of the highest bidder. So when an expensive (read coal-fired) station is called upon to generate, the low-cost stations (hydro) make huge windfall profits. Generators may rort the system by withholding supply to drive up prices.
Take the coal-fired stations out of this bidding and end the withholding rort and we should have an electricity price that reflects the price of low-cost hydro stations.
Of course, once any move in that direction is made, we would immediately hear a chorus from energy CEOs saying they could no longer fund development.
A shortage of rental properties throughout New Zealand was alleged during the election campaign, with Labour, the Greens and the Mana Party saying the government should keep building them until there was enough to go around. However, with 411,000 private rental properties and 69,000 state houses as part of New Zealand’s 1.7-million occupied dwellings, the cost of providing a cheap-rent state house for everyone who asks is prohibitive.
A wise and pragmatic government would seek co-operation with the private sector to meet the nation’s housing needs. Although it is deemed politically unacceptable for a government to be seen to be working with private property investors, people in government are phoning private landlords every day to arrange accommodation.
Co-operation in the way of tax breaks for insulation and heating improvements along with less stringent consent requirements to be able to keep properties up to date would get a far better result than the current ritual vilifications of landlords that we have seen.
Houses unaffordable for first home buyers and Maori is another Left-wing catch cry, with central and local government subsidies promoted as the Leftist solution. One needy family who appeared on One News last night had eight children. Did no one tell that family that children cost money and somewhere along the line choices have to be made.
A confident and responsible government would say that you cannot expect the state to pay for your children and your housing, that each family has a responsibility to pay their way. A society in which individuals work for their families, and families contribute to the nation is cohesive and sustainable. A society in which broken families leach off the state is not sustainable.
Education initiatives, such as charter schools, are met with implacable and apparently unthinking opposition from teacher unions. One suggested change is to end automatic union fee direct debits from teachers’ wages so that if they volunteer to be part of the union they should voluntarily send in their union fees by cheque or internet transfer.
At high school there is an unresolved tension over academic subjects or vocational training. High schools push as many pupils as possible to tertiary education. There is a shortage of trade staff. Numerous pupils are better with their hands than conceptual thought and want to be out of school as soon as possible. Therefore, stream the hands-on pupils to trade training in year 9 while retaining for them essential classes in basic literacy and numeracy. and link these pupils to apprentice schemes after year 11.
Kids schooled this was would be earning good money while their academic friends would still be learning at tertiary. Those trained in trades would create the next generation of small businesses which are the foundation unit of the New Zealand economy.
Moving on to treaty politics, now that we know that Prime Minister John Key has the courage and tenacity to face down bitter personal attacks, we know that he does not need to cave into the whims of the Maori sovereignty movement. This means if he does cave in, we can safely conclude that he is all for Maori sovereignty.
During the campaign, Key opined that “hikois from hell” would result should there be any move on the Maori seats and that it is over to Maori to decide. However, Maori have mostly already decided, with just 55 percent of Maori voters opting for the Maori roll. The sun is setting on the Maori seats.
Similarly, when it comes to treaty settlements, a large number of Maori don’t buy into the guilt and grievance industry and simply shrug their shoulders when the matter is discussed and are determined not to have anything to do with tribal elites gathering around the treaty trough. None of that has anything to do with aspiring to a better future.
The charitable status for tribal corporations should come to an end because there is little charity done by those corporations and the charitable status gives these businesses an unfair advantage over other such businesses.
Government in some respects is dysfunctional and some reorganization is required. For instance, the “Maori, other populations and cultural” sector of government could be streamlined. Arts, Culture and Heritage, Internal Affairs, Sport and Recreation, and Statistics should be retained as of benefit to everyone. Treaty Negotiations should be moved to the justice sector to get the whole shaky edifice of the treaty industry on to a proper professional footing.
But Maori Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs, and Women's Affairs should either be dumped or added to Chinese Affairs, Indian Affairs, Punjabi Affairs, Bangladesh Affairs, African Affairs, Somali Affairs, Sierra Leone Affairs, Middle Eastern Affairs, Palestinian Affairs, Jewish Affairs and so on … get my drift? If Maori Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs, and Women's Affairs were dumped, a lot of money could be saved, and nobody would notice their absence – except of course the employees of those disestablished departments who would have to move elsewhere.
I have not mentioned a lower flat tax rate to power up the economy, and the extra economic activity could bring GST back to 10 percent as originally intended. We could have an immigration policy that matches supply with demand, adapts training to enable foreign born professionals to work in their profession here, and spreads migrants throughout New Zealand instead of dumping them in Auckland.
With a Prime Minister who has demonstrated his courage and tenacity, and with National MPs Left, Right, and Centre, we could have a reform government, if only the government-elect were reform-minded.
at 7:42 PM