24
Nov

Postscript on ‘The New Politics’

One must of course be careful about reading too much into titles and labels. I shared an advance copy of yesterday’s post with Peter Harris and Chris Eichbaum and they advised me that the ‘Third Way’ subtitle to their book was included largely at the urging of their publishers, who wanted to connect the book more explicitly to the global ‘third way’ debate. The original title had been something like “The New Politics: the search for a post-Washington consensus in NZ”.

Nonetheless, they went along with the idea, reasoning that (as they say in the book) NZ had had its first and second ways with Muldoonist statism, and the neo-liberalism of Douglas, Richardson & co. So a ‘third way’ was relevant here too, even though NZ Labour needed distance from its past for rather different reasons to UK Labour.

They did insist on the subtitle being “a third way” rather than “the third way” though! (Which is consistent with the specifically NZ ‘third way’ character that I’ve tried to outline.)

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4 Responses to “Postscript on ‘The New Politics’”

  1. Helen Clark was a very popular Prime Minister. But so are many leaders. Hitler was, as was Pol Pot, Stalin and George W Bush. Politicians are nearly always popular when in power. They hog the headlines, seduce the public with wishy washy feel good statements while they make conservative fence sitting statements as they hand out tax payer’s money to encourage the gullible public to vote them into public office.

    But now Helen is gone I ask myself what did she do to protect NZ?

    My first worry about Helen began when she started her photo sessions with Stephen Tyndall of the Warehouse. The Warehouse has been popular with shoppers but destructive to other retailers. Like Wal-Mart in the USA when they move into a long standing local town shops close and jobs are lost. But they do far more damage than just that. They import and they move NZ$ offshore faster than a lightning flash which place pressure on increasing trade deficits.

    So Helen’s focus on seeing and promoting Mr Tyndall as some sort of economic hero had me questioning her micro and macro understandings of economics. Her partner finance minister Dr Cullen with his kiwi fund also did things that made me question his abilities. Along with other Cabinet members they choose to ignore advice for the need for regulatory control for financial advisors.

    Dr Cullen pushed ahead with public money investments into the equities market clearly at a time when P/E ratios were at the extreme danger levels. The bubble was obvious, and so the losses became staggering. Did Helen Clark or Dr Cullen care?

    Over the years I have dealt with many politicians. They are always nice to meet but sadly when it comes to the nuts and bolts of an issue, as soon as they see the reality of the problem they run . Unlike leaders in the private sector, politicians and their public servants run from having to deal with tough issues. Yet they are always ready to open a new hall or bridge, plant a tree or welcome a visiting politician. But only when the cameras are on them so that they can get themselves into the news.

    Our politicians always have an eye on what the headlines may look like with them in it and so they spend their time in an office of important fiduciary control self serving their own image rather than care about what fiduciary control actually means which is a selfless duty of care to those who have entrusted them a control over their interests. So how have our politicians gone in this regard?

    New Zealand was once wealthy. Employment was strong, assets were rich and our standard of living among the highest in the world. We owned our primary infrastructure of power & telecommunication and household bills had manageable income to expense ratios. Housing was affordable and so mortages were manageable. Income to debt ratios were conservative and people were really happy. Then Roger Douglas arrived. After Fay Richwhite donated huge sums of money to the political machines suddenly our assets we owned were flogged off at bargain prices to offshore investors, Fay Richwhite made a billion dollars but they did donate a large white boat which we can all see framed up down at Auckland harbor.

    Roger Douglas announced the end of tariffs and the opening up of cheap imported goods based on the theory NZ needed to become real, it needed to become competitive on a level playing field. NZ shoe makers and other manufacturers who paid kiwi workers $9 an hr were expected to compete with Asian manufacturers who paid their staff back then $9 for 50hrs hot factory work. That was the level playing field Roger Douglas meant ?

    From that policy kiwi factories closed at an alarming rate and sadly too many talented kiwis moved to Australia where many are today owners of large companies earning wealth for Australia. Sure they look back to NZ every time the rugby is being played, but few move back. I did move back and my story of that sad event can be read below (1)

    Today New Zealand is the 3rd most indebted nation in the OECD. Every week our government borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the bills (2). And our backbone assets have mostly been sold to offshore companies who have simply but the charges up to better their returns on their investments, we have failed to value add, red tape has destroyed many existing businesses and new businesses are hemmed in by rules and regulations that only large companies can afford. Last week John Key announced he wanted to get serious on encouraging kiwis to save.

    I reminded John Key they did save money, but 232,000 then lost $8.5b they had saved and trusted on deposit with finance and investment companies! Something which both Labour and National governments have ignored that is was their fault they failed they fiduciary duty of care by failing to legislate simple protection rules for investment companies who take/accept from the public, deposits.

    The only economic winners have seen in the NZ mess have been the lawyers. Win or loss, they win and they win big. The more red tape, the more legislation they design the more business for them. So back to the question of Helen Clark. Did she do a good job. You can answer that after reading the facts. From my perspective- she and her cabinet were a total disaster for NZ. Does that mean John Key’s team will do better? Like Obama they have a huge mess to try to tidy up and the damage is already everywhere.

    I have said time and time again one repeating message and it is this:

    Fiduciary accountability is the answer to all our political, judicial, economic, social, educational & corruption issues. When the world finally understands and adopts this, they will look back and wonder how they ever managed without it. We must make our politicians and judges accountable by removing crown and judicial immunity. Only then will they focus on the duty of care because they will know they will be held to account if either they are lazy, have some hidden agenda, or are stupid and only ever got into public office by sucking up others.

    Whenever I write that statement most people agree but the odd one suggests some people would have no interest in taking pubic office if they faced “the liability of truly independent scrutiny.” “Exactly” I answer and I don’t have to think too hard to guess why those in public office enjoy the protection of crown immunity.

    Bad leadership is what I refer to as “Idiots in Power” and NZ has been suffering their power.

    1. http://worldeconomy-wingate.blogspot.com/2010/08/billionaires-millionaires-why-invest-in.html

    2. http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/financialstatements/yearend/jun10/55.htm

  2. NMG says:

    Not sure you can describe Pol Pot as a ‘popular’ politician. I don’t recall him ever seeking the Cambodian public’s views/support.

  3. Pol Pot was a school teacher recruited and trained and funded by both the UK & USA to lead an uprising. He was popular and the people cheered him as he drove that country into the ground.

    I recall the US, UK, Australian, NZ outcry, screaming up and down when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979 to end Pol Pot’s rule. You get the point I trust, our leaders are too often idiots.

  4. NMG says:

    Happy to agree with you about our leaders being idiots at times. But I’m still pretty confident that the Cambodian people didn’t cheer Pol Pot on. For a start, they were too busy being worked and starved to death in the fields.

    And the Americans and British didn’t start funding Pol Pot until after the Vietnamese had overthrown him. He wasn’t all that popular with the Cambodian people then, either