Rob Hosking on The New Zealand Project

Rob Hosking at NBR comments on the wonky book from Max Harris,

Harris is being lauded by the left-wing for his apparent smashing of neoliberalism.

The most prominent of these right now is The New Zealand Project but it is only the latest in a stream of publications that claim the country is suffering from a surfeit of this thing it calls “neoliberalism.”

Author Max Harris has a stream of impressive academic credentials but anyone reading the book would be under the impression the policy direction he describes as “neoliberalism” is still rampant.

Which is odd.

Not odd at all, it is a word the left-wing likes to throw around with gay abandon, trying to demonise people with that particular tar brush,

New Zealand has a prime minister who cheerfully told a leading business publication (this one, if you’re checking)  in 2009 he was more concerned about keeping unemployment below the drastically bad forecasts being made for it at the time than he was about which quarter GDP would turn upward again.

Ruth Richardson – and, probably, Bill Birch – would have carved out their own livers with a blunt spoon rather than make a comment like that, especially to a business publication (and, incidentally, Mr English got his wish).

There has been a wholesale regulation of financial markets under the current government, in a way no previous government, of either stripe, has dared. Helen Clark’s regime, despite coming to office with rhetoric about a “wild west” and warnings as early as 2003 about cowboy finance companies from the Securities Commission, did little.

National is more left-wing that the Democrats in the US and is filled with wets like Nikki Kaye.

There is some dodgy use of economic statistics in the book: GDP data is taken from a one-off peak in 1984 as showing New Zealand was doing very well at that point, something few who were alive at the time would find credible. In any case, anyone who grabs the economic data from one quarter as illustrating anything important is not applying anything like the rigour required.

There is more than a sense in the book of an ideological and tribally partisan political tome, masquerading as something more detached. Mr Harris has objected to NBR editor-at-large Nevil Gibson’s characterisation of his arguments as “neo-socialist” – use of such terms, he complains, “isn’t conducive to careful debate.”

One has to wonder, then,  just what spraying the term “neoliberalism” somewhat indiscriminately is supposed to be.

Academics like Max Harris like to throw around their own insults, but when challenged they resort to more name calling. Two academics in particular are currently doing the same thing with me. One anti-tobacco activist even called me the “paid pimp of the tobacco industry”, yet he rushes off to court claiming defamation for being called a trougher.

Mr Harris’s choice of title of his book is apt, in one way.

There is a “project” going on here – but it is more a classic case of the psychological phenomenon of “projection” – projecting one’s own flaws and faults in outlook on to “the other.”

There is rather a lot of this going on there.

Many people do, mostly they are on the left-wing of politics…or journalists.

Apparently though, we are supposed to take the curly headed, jug eared fool seriously.




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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.