Rodney Hide: Good politics over good policy

Rodney Hide discusses Don Brash’s ratings of John Key’s government: Quote:

Don Brash recently rated the previous National-led government as zero out of ten. That?s a tough assessment from a previous Reserve Bank governor and former leader of the National Party.

Dr Brash explained his poor rating: The National-led government didn?t deliver on its promises and New Zealanders are all poorer as a result.

But wasn?t Sir John Key the most popular and successful prime minister in recent times??Yes, and there you have it.

Good politics??Or good policy? Take your pick.?It seems you can?t have both.?End quote.

It seems we can’t have both. John Key was interested in gaining his knighthood, getting re-elected and building his CV and not much else.Quote:

Finance ministers Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson believed good policy was good politics.?

Even if that were true, our present-day politicians don?t buy it. And given the choice, they prefer good politics over good policy.

It’s votes that propel politicians to power and keep them there, not making voters rich. Besides, the connection between good policy and being better off is neither immediate nor obvious.

Spending cuts, tax cuts, slashing red tape, privatisation and welfare reform would make us all better off, especially those government services, government spending and government welfare are designed to help. But try explaining that in a soundbite against years of counter-propaganda.

The great bulk of voters truly think money comes from the government. And why wouldn?t they??That’s the drum politicians and the media endlessly beat. They also believe, against all evidence, that free markets make the rich richer and the poor poorer.?End quote.

The evidence world-wide is that capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty, while socialism has moved tens of millions into destitution.Quote:

Since the passing of Roger Kerr and the Business Roundtable, there is no person or group suggesting otherwise.

Meanwhile, the propaganda spills forth in the news, popular culture and our schools that plastic bags are bad, capitalism is evil and the welfare state and handouts are great inventions and a boon to humankind.

It’s the background ocean of propaganda-fuelled emotional response that bobs politicians about. They must keep their heads above an inconsistent and hypocritical mess of emotion rather than thought-through ideas, principles and analysis.

Life as a result is nowhere as good as it could be but it’s not that bad.?It’s comfortable for voters rather than challenging, exciting and rewarding.

That comfort makes voters resistant to any change. The result is policy that is more symbolic than real. It’s designed to look good rather than do good.

Outside of any serious strain, such as war or financial crisis, there is no need for tough or principled decisions.

The logic of the ban on plastic bags is to ban all plastic wrapping and plastic bottles. Instead it?s just plastic bags less than 50 microns thick with handles for carrying groceries.?The same logic should apply to the plastic bags wrapping meat, vegetables, fruit, dry goods, shirts, everything, and also one-use drink bottle and food containers. But that would be too big an upset. Better just appear to be doing good rather than actually doing it.

Absent clear thinking, the resistance to change is fortunate.? It means that if the Key-led government rates a zero out of ten, the Ardern-led government is a minus but single-digit minus so far, not a double-digit one. End quote.

But fast heading to double digit negatives. Even though supermarkets took out the plastics bags voluntarily, it was almost immediately after Jacinda Ardern’s announcement, so it will be the government that will be blamed for inconveniencing shoppers now that bags have disappeared. People might feel fine about completing a survey giving an 85% positive response to removing plastic bags, but now reality is here I doubt you can find anyone who said it was a good idea. It’s a bit like finding those who voted for MMP, few and far between.

It is all called virtue-signalling for a reason. There is literally no substance to these decisions.

Rodney Hide is right, it is politics over policy.