That, hard on the heels of this NZ labour productivity declines. And the response from the Business Roundtable.
Well, you all know I care about personal freedom. And that my stance on drugs is the thing that led me to study policy. It seems that my study of policy has taken me deeply into reading about neoliberal ideology, which probably makes most people either yawn with boredom or grit their teeth with frustration.
Anyway, part of what I've learned is about the fun job that governments have in trying to balance economic efficiency against equality. Seems the two things, while not mutually exclusive, don't sit very well in the same mixing bucket, but tend to separate out, and when economic efficiency comes out on top the equality gets squashed underneath, and vice versa.
OK, if you're not asleep yet, I will get to the point in a minute..
If you bothered to read the thing from the business roundtable, you'll see a bit where they compare the current government with the Muldoon government in its level of regulation of markets, welfare spending and interference in the running of businesses and people's lives. And based on my grand total of three weeks' study of the topic, I can kind of see where they are coming from. Unemployment is at an all time low (full employment being a goal of the *cough* Golden Age Of Welfare *cough* in New Zealand), more and more laws are being made in an attempt to achieve equality, and others that attempt to regulate our behaviour - the BZP one being one of those. They just killed off a major industry, put a bunch of people out of work, and turned 300,000 New Zealanders into criminals.
Whatever you think of BZP, its users, or the politics surrounding it, it is a prime example of legislation that limits personal freedom in an attempt to keep people's behaviour within certain social boundaries, and one that has, and will, cost the country money. That's my money, by the way.
Back in the 80s, lots of stuff was deregulated, the dollar was floated, state owned assets were sold off, and everyone went "FREE MARKET WHEEE!" - ok those of us who were hit by the benefit cuts didn't go "WHEE", but lots of people did. Then there were those people who shot themselves in the head because their livelihood fell over without the support of subsidies.
Fast forward 10 years, and the Intrepid Kiwi had (for the most part, but we'll just ignore those folks we're trampling on to get to the top mmk?) picked himself up, dusted off his swannie/business suit, and got on with it. And we were doing ok. *kicks the poor people hard enough to shut them up again*
Enter a 'government that cares' - one that slowly started legislating for equality again. We can't have people starving in New Zealand, we can't have minorities being marginalised, and we definitely can't have Darwin in action, survival of the fittest, and devil-take-the-hindmost. So we legislate, we make policy, and the National supporters grumble about the slow erosion of our rights, the 'nanny-state' and the slow lumbering, expensive elephant that is our interfering government. Meanwhile, equal opportunity becomes equal outcome. Or it's supposed to. You'd probably have to get the poor people out of the gimp cupboard, dust them off and teach them some literacy before you'd get a clear picture of whether it's actually happening.
Ok, so most of us agree that we're likely to have a change of government at this year's election. It'll be National. They are still pretty left-wing, but not as left-wing as Labour. And the business roundtable is calling for a more neoliberal approach because they think the current policies are running our country (slowly, and in a very politically correct and equality-driven manner) into the ground.
I have a couple of questions. First, I do agree that the government should be interfering less with personal freedom. You all know that. But, if National starts to go all neoliberal on our ass, exactly what would that mean? The dollar's already floated, most of our assets are already sold, the subsidies are ancient history. What on earth could they do?
I know there are several people who read this, that are a lot more politically savvy than me. I won't be voting National, because despite my apparent agreement with some of their policies, they are also conservative and I'm sorry, but I'm not, and never will be. So, politically-savvy people, please tell me what you think. Do I have this all wrong? What's likely to happen if/when the National goverment starts driving this baby?
Yes, I know they won't reverse the BZP law despite all the big talk about personal freedom and the nanny state. Yes, we should have freedom, but only the freedom the government thinks we should have - that be the freedom to choose to either partake in recreational drugs (alcohol), or not. To choose to be a productive little capitalist, or to go down the gurgler..
Ok I will stop now. Educate me, people!
Gosh. That was long. So, if I can rant at length on my blog, why am I having such a hard time arranging my thoughts into essay format?
(ok ok i need the practice and believe it or not, this format helps me sort my head out. sorry for inflicting my untangling on you)
I'll be at Fidels at about 4:30 as usual. This weekend will be all about the packing. Gosh, this is all happening really fast. One more week and I'll likely be ensconced in the eyrie with crap internet. At which point the above problem with essay writing may become less of a problem.
PS I am not going to turn into a political blog, in case you're worried. But I talk about whatever shite is in my head on any given day, and it's likely that my study will be in my head a bit, and I'll blog about it as I try to braindump and associate all this high-falutin' academic talk with something that's actually happening in my real world. Sorry about that.