Liam Hehir on Gareth Morgan

Liam Hehir writes at the Manawatu?Standard:

Two seemingly unrelated things that happened in the last couple of weeks strike me as a good illustration of the problems with how we talk to each other in relation to public affairs.

The first involved Gareth Morgan. A little while ago, the economist-turned-politician proposed taxing all house owners on the equity in their home. Unsurprisingly, more than a few people objected to this idea.

One of those people was former ACT leader Jamie Whyte, who penned a critique of the plan. The nub of the criticism was that Morgan had been operating under a category error by classifying the benefit of home ownership as income rather than consumption. Whyte argued the logic of Morgan’s tax would have silly and impractical applications for the wider economy. And referring to an earlier televised debate between Morgan and Paul Henry on the subject, Whyte argued Henry had the better of the discussion. ?

Gareth Morgan did not take this well. He wrote an angry response entitled: “No wonder Jamie Whyte and Paul Henry are whingeing ? they and their rich mates love tax loopholes.” That headline accurately captures the?tenor of the analysis that followed. In essence, Morgan’s argument was Whyte and Henry are not qualified to critique his policy and, therefore, their scepticism must be motivated by nothing other than their personal pecuniary interest in not being taxed.

The second thing related to the Pike River mine, which is due to be sealed against the wishes of some of the families of the dead miners. Quite understandably, these families would like the mine owners to first attempt to recover the remains of their loved ones. The owners, however, have received advice that doing so would risk a second disaster, and are unwilling to risk this. It is a horrible situation all round.

The horribleness was not helped by the re-emergence of the matter in the political arena. No surprises there, I guess.

Gareth Morgan likes one-way discourse and only when he has a megaphone. If you challenge him then he resorts to nasty, personal ad hominem attacks. Clearly, they are political skills learned on the?knee of his puppet master in Pyongyang.

He is unfit for public office.


– Manawatu Standard