Coddington flays academics

Deborah Coddington has had a couple of good weeks. Today she flays a couple of pinko academic rent a quote types:

Why bother with inquiries into disasters when, say noted economists Brian Easton and Geoff Bertram, everything is Roger Douglas’ fault: “Pike River, leaky homes, finance companies – costly in both money and lives – is seen as the belated price New Zealand is paying for chucking away its rulebooks in the late 1980s.”

Easton blames Rogernomics for Pike River’s 29 miner deaths and, furthermore, suicides by owners of leaky homes.

Why? Because Sir Roger’s Government was “too hands-off” with regulations in these areas, Easton said last week.

Bertram reckons New Zealand is “a laughing stock in many overseas jurisdictions. They look at our regulatory arrangements and roll their eyes.”

So that’s why immigration officials wipe away tears of mirth and pick themselves up off the floor every time I enter a foreign country and hand over my passport for stamping.

Complete bollocks. Deborah gets stuck in.

But Easton and Bertram are quite right. All this choice and freedom is killing us. We should repair to Nanny Muldoon’s policies with haste.

By law, only four trading banks were permitted. They opened at 10am and closed at 3pm. There were no ATM machines. If you wanted cash for the weekend, you withdrew money on Friday before the bank closed. Interest was set on savings accounts at 3 per cent.

To send money overseas you bought money orders from the Post Office. Above a certain amount “about $5 a day” you applied to the Reserve Bank. Same for international magazines – you filled out a form, sent it to the Reserve Bank, and got permission from Nanny to send funds offshore.

No lives must be risked in the spending of this money. And marginal tax rates will go back to 66 per cent, kicking in at $30,000.

People forget those days of state control over almost every aspect of our lives. People also forget that Labour increased its vote from 1984 to 1987 because they loved the freedom that Rogernomics brought to the country. The sad fact is though that Labour helped re-write history, along with plonkers like Brian Easton and Geoff Bertram.

Rogernomics should be blamed for the 25 drivers killed while using their cellphones. These are weapons of mass destruction. Douglas liberated telecommunications.

In 1985 the state-owned Post Office stockpiled 2000 spare desks and chairs, and a two-year supply of dial phones nobody wanted.

Before you got a new phone you had to prove the one you had was beyond repair – but that was okay because nobody died and the phones didn’t leak.

When the state owned our assets, the Post Office landed 13,000 faulty telephones, and a further $30 million of PABX equipment stayed in storage until someone felt like fixing the software. The numbers of people on waiting lists for telecommunications services nearly doubled in the three years to 1985, from 8000 to 15,000. But nobody overseas laughed at us.

This is what happens when government departments run things, we wold do well to remember those days. This is what Labour acolytes now pine for. Their MPs even post videos about it.

How comforting were the arms of Nanny, pre-1984, when she decided what we could and couldn’t buy. Government chose who could have import licences, and which local manufacturers should be protected.

It doesn’t matter if New Zealand families can’t afford cheap clothes and shoes for their children. That’s not the point. It’s Nanny’s job – as these two erudite economists will happily point out – to protect the privileged, not the consumers who want to shop around, or go online, for cheaper goods.

Competition hurts producers, manufacturers, banks, supermarkets – goodness, even those selling milk and vegetables. Here, let Nanny put a plaster on it.

Thank you Deborah Coddington for reminding us what Labour would take us back to.



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  • Hmm, that seems pretty much a straw man argument to me. Unless Easton really holds all the views Coddington is implying (he thinks we should return to banks closing at 3pm – really?). In any case, she went on about a whole lot of stuff, but didn’t actually address his point about regulations in the areas he was discussing. That was a lousy rebuttal to Easton’s point.

  • kevin

    and… some will remember the business loan deals of the 1980’s. interest rates in the mid 20’s%. Choke on that. Mind you inflation was high.

  • Josh

    Coddington’s argument is basically “Life under Muldoon was too regulated. Therefore we should accept, uncritically, all the changes of Rogernomics.”

    If this is the best intellectual argument the neo-liberal right can muster then I can see why ACT is languishing at 2% in the polls.

    • Goerge

      I believe the argument is actually; that not all of the changes and policies of Rogernomics were bad and for the most part, we are a lot better off for the changes made.
      More than 25 years after these changes were made, no government has made any major reversal of these policies. In fact the last Labour government helped to establish a free trade agreement with China – Rogernomics at it’s finest.
      We are happy to enjoy the benefits of Rogernomics while blaming them for all our current problems.

  • John

    Agree Steve,lots of blah blah,but nothing about regulations,and the deaths caused by the lack off.

  • Gazzaw

    I well remember back in the 70s as a young travel agent booking domestic travel for corporates. The bulk of that domestic business was from importers or manufacturers travelling to Wellington to grease the necessary political and bureaucratic palms to secure their import licensing or protect the manufacture of locally made substandard and overpriced goods.

    How well do we recall the era when a Pye black & white TV cost four months salary, when locally made Toyota Starlets rusted away, when you had to apply to the Reserve Bank for sufficient funds to stay in a 2 star hotel overseas. THe good old days of state intervention at its extreme.

  • Pharmachick

    Its a tough one,
    Coddington makes some excellent points (such as: when Kiwis waited weeks for the old telephone exchange to give them a line (and.or replace an old phone); begging the govt. for he chance to exchange money to buy a new car, beggin the govt. for money to go overseas … etc. These are all great points that sow how far we as a society have come and how protectionist and patronizing our government were 30-40 years ago as well as how backwards [compared to today].

    These points are sullied by her unfortunately sarcastic and un-researched column.
    Coddington renders most of her own argument moot by the fact that 1) she is entirely critical of “muldoonism” whilst being entirely uncritical of “Rogernomics”, 2) advocating that we were better when mums acted as seamstresses rather than bought clothes from the Warehouse (really Deborah? have you calculated labor costs of the mums into hat equations given that clothes manufacturing is a semi-skilled trade)… Unfortunately there are several more.

    Look, Coddington raises any number of excellent points, unfortunately her sarcastic tone and lack of attention to detail not only make this column open to immediate attack, they also make it hard for people like me to defend her, even when we’re **inclined** to agree with the premise(s) of her column.

  • diabolos

    I am the first to admit that i dont quite understand either the point of the post or Deb Coddingtons ruminations.

    All i know is this – a very large part of current captains of industry and also pollies and also those now with the luxury of the chance to snipe away at the welfare state – were and are in fact .. allowed to do so and indeed enabled to by that same welfare state.

    Bite the hand that fed you and make very certain no one else gets a piece of that action.

    Muldoon was a National Prime Minister. Lange and Douglas were Labourites who should have been ashamed of themselves. At least Muldoon had an excuse.

    Question – what is so great about what we now have – compared to what someone thinks Labour would have us enter into?

    John Key wants to sell off the remaining family silver … maybe the Allblacks loss to Aussie is a metaphor for our nation and political future. The dangers of a shallow beauty competition … based on prostituting reality and substance – to populism and veneration of the fantasy of the privileged few. The emperor actually has no clothes