Rodney Hide on the one thing governments excels at

Rodney Hide writes at NBR:

I recently had my anarchism challenged by the question that surely there must be at least one thing that government did well: sure, I replied, myth-making based on lies. No institution comes close.

He forgot taxing people.

It starts with elections. They don’t reflect the “will of the people.” Elections are the result of people voting every three years among limited options with little information and little or no effort or consequence.

Elections don’t provide a “mandate” to government to do anything in particular and certainly not to take our property through legislation such as the Resource Management Act or taxation.

No voter has especially agreed with any particular policy but rather they have made a poorly informed choice for the least worst option. The concept of a mandate is thrown further awry by MMP where governments are invariably reliant on minor parties.

We are certainly facing a “Least Worst” dilemma this election.

We are called citizens when in truth we are subjects. Inland Revenue calls me a client. ACC calls me a customer. The suggestion is that I have a choice. I don’t. The money is choked out of me.

Education is declared “free and universal.” It costs $14 billion a year with poor kids zoned out of the best schools. It’s not free and it’s not universal.

Healthcare is supposedly based on need. Long health waiting lists became politically contentious. So they were eliminated. The struggle now is to get on a list.

The waiting list is now 110,000, with another 170,000 waiting to get on the waiting list. The average wait for surgery is 304 days. New Zealanders suffer in pain and agony waiting but jump to the top of the queue if they can pay.

The problem is not a lack of resources. It’s simply a lack of organisation and incentive.

The government runs a welfare system that doesn’t cure poverty but rather creates and entrenches it. Welfare is not the cure but the cause.

The government promises a “closing of gaps” but runs housing, welfare and education policies guaranteed to ensure a gap in opportunity and achievement perpetuates down through generations.

Not content with failing to provide distributional justice in the here and now, the government also attempts to settle historical injustice. The promise of full and final settlement for historical wrongs is simply another lie.

We then have public transport, global warming, the Official Information Act, government science, evidence-based policy making, the need for big salaries to retain staff – the list goes on and on.

It’s a puzzle why we buy into government. It could be an atavistic desire for a chief and organising force or it could simply be the socialist Upton Sinclair’s observation: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

A brilliant summation of how government is part of the problem and almost never the solution.



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