Sir Roger fisks Armstrong

Roger Douglas: Hard right? No, they’re hard left – 24 Mar 2008 – Politics: New Zealand Political News, Analysis and Comment including 2008 election coverage – NZ Herald

Sir Roger Douglas has given John Armstrong a right good fisking about the so-called “hard right”. But before I go into that I have to give a big ups to ACT for wheeling out Sir Roger because since they did ACT has dominated political thought and talk. I expect to see a rise in their poll rating, simply because with Sir Roger talking and opining they are in the news and in the news almost every day.

Now back to the fisking;

One expects Helen Clark or Michael Cullen to describe conventional economic thinking as irrelevant “hard right” ideology. That sort of deception is their stock-in-trade.

But for John Armstrong to claim that what I said last Thursday was to “spell out his ‘hard-right’ agenda for New Zealand’s economic salvation” is not only nonsense, but demonstrates how successful Helen Clark has been in labelling anyone who has an alternative policy as being “hard right”.

To call what I said “hard right” is hugely ignorant.

Ouch, that is one heck of a way to start your fisking, slapping former cabinet colleagues and sticking pins in a journalists eyes by calling him ignorant.

What’s “hard right” about adopting the education system of Helen Clark’s socialist heroes, Sweden? That’s broadly what Act is advocating.

The great irony there is that Helen Clark and Dr Cullen are behind the times even by socialist standards. The Swedish education system hasn’t been hard-left socialist since 1992. That year, the Swedes introduced what has always been Act policy – where every child gets a scholarship to take to the school of their choice. This puts the power in the hands of individual teachers and parents, not the state, and not the teachers’ unions.

Right, that is education taken care of and a slap down for Clark, Cullen and Armstrong, again.

Act’s objective is to move low-income people from a system that locks them into state dependency into a system where all New Zealanders can make constructive personal choices. Surely that is basic to the dignity of human beings.

Excellent, that is what National also believes in. Labour pretends that is what they believe in but they approach it from a State dependence perspective rather than a self improvement perspective. Now for the bullet points with which to machine gun the silly thoughts of “hard right”

Health – What’s “hard right” about guaranteeing people in pain an immediate operation instead of dying on a waiting list?

That’s what Act’s health policy would do.

My doctor tells me I need a knee reconstruction. I have health insurance so any time I decide, I can have it within four weeks.

What’s “hard right”, then, about giving all New Zealanders a tax break so they can purchase a health policy like mine and get immediate treatment when they need it?

Act is not “hard right”. Act cares enough to come up with solutions that cure the problems we face, not add to them.

He sticks it to National as well labeling them as hard left along with Labour. I think that is a bit harsh, but hey Sir Roger is trying to raise Act’s profile so I can understand the politics of the statement.

When it comes to two of the most important areas for people – education and health – Labour, National and all the other parties are hard left. They’re not even centrist, they’re hard left.

Oh, they’re happy I opened up most of the old state monopoly industries to healthy competition, they’ve got used to that and have seen the huge benefits obtained from doing so. They’re happy that we moved from what was essentially a communist lookalike system that nearly bankrupted New Zealand to a free market system that gives us free choice in these areas.

They’re not about to change back. Yet for some strange reason when it comes to the remaining monopolies, the social ones that I didn’t get around to reforming in the 1980s, for some strange reason they favour keeping our Stalinist education and health systems.

Brilliant, I am starting to like the sound of this, but wait there’s more.

I also suggested we might rent hospital wards to doctors, provided they could demonstrate an increase in productivity of 50 per cent and pay them a fee for services provided.

The facts are simple: without efficiency, improved equity is impossible to achieve. This policy would improve efficiency (output up 50 per cent) while improving equity 50 per cent, more people getting the treatment they need. This policy, aimed at ending hospital rationing, where sick people queue for surgery like the Soviets queued for bread, is not “hard right” policy, just common sense.

I love it, that’ll actually work. Specialists remember treat some patients in the morning and toddle off to the private clinics in the afternoon. By removing the need for them to toddle off we will get productivity gains. Lastly a tax policy I can embrace.

Tax – in the area of taxation, I made three suggestions:

* Increase the tax brackets to their pre-1999 value. Dr Cullen’s refusal to do so has cost the average family at least $30 a week. Hardly “hard right” policy.

* Drop Dr Cullen’s envy tax of 39c.

* Make the first $20,000 of personal income tax-free so people can afford to buy their own healthcare cover and risk insurance such as accident and sickness cover. Hardly “hard right” policy.

Kiwis need to understand that the issue is not equity or efficiency as Labour would portray it; it is equity and efficiency.

The first $20,000 tax free is great, sadly though the people who would most likely benefit from such a system are indoctrinated from a life of state teet-sucking that they can’t quite be;ieve that such a thing is possible.

All in all a great fisking and shafting of silly knee-jerk politicians and journalists.

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