Friday, 19 August 2005

Roll out the pork barrel!

Simon Collins at the Herald has tried to sum up the cost of Labour's promises so far. He's understated the budgeted costs, and also I think well understated some fairly savage social effects of Labour's new 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package -- its plan to make beneficiaries of up to three-quarters of the country's families.
The Labour Party has promised to spend an extra $911 million a year on its election pledges so far...

Yesterday's $438 million a year in extra family support by 2008-09 comes on top of $300 million a year to write off interest on student loans, $81 million for extra cataract, knee and hip operations, $50 million for a rates rebate for low-income home-owners, $25 million for extra community police and $17 million for 5000 new modern apprentices.
Labour is awash with cash, and Simon hasn't even begun to tot up all the spending promises. The student loans bribe has been costed at over a billion dollars by Westpac economist Brendan Donovan -- that on its own outdoes Simon Collins's total figure.

And what of the promise to spend $500 million that was 'found' to be lying around to build more roads (despite Fletcher's CEO pointing out that road-building capacity is at its limit). And what of the Kyoto balls-up, looking like a $1 billion bungle.

These figures are all looking mighty big -- much bigger than Simon's paltry $911 million a year. A rough calculation puts the spend-up so far at about $3.2 billion. This is bribery on a Muldoonist scale, and promised at a time when the 'fiscally prudent' Doctor Cullen has been warning there is "no extra cash to spend," "no money to splurge," "no fat to trim." None at all. Not a bit.

What he didn't mention was the enormous barrel of pork out the back he was planning to roll out and uncork.

And one further cost those figures above don't measure: the 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package announced yesterday will cement in place the existing social structure of the country for a long time to come. If your family is receiving Welfare for Families largesse, and you earn an extra dollar, that dollar will be taxed at up to 95.2%. Who will want to earn that extra dollar? Who could?

As Rodney Hide pointed out, even under Labour's 'Welfare for Families 1.0' package families "can’t improve their lot. Michael Cullen and Steve Maharey have frozen their income... It doesn’t matter how hard you work – you can’t improve your lot. It’s doesn’t matter either if you slack off -- your income stays much the same." As I pointed out of the earlier release of 'Welfare for Families 1.0', this is creating a class system, something to which Labour purports to be opposed. Yesterday's announcement if implemented would calcify New Zealand's class structure forever, the only way up for a New Zealand family will be to uncork another baby.

So who exactly is targeting dumb people then? Labour Party President Mike Williams said of National's TV ads that there just aren't enough dumb people around to be attracted by them. So who the hell is he expecting to be attracted by this outpouring of pork.

This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, your family, or your children are being bribed, and whose future you will be selling out.


  1. No, but it might be the last time I'm around to witness it. The Free State Project is looking more and more attractive every day ...

  2. Mencken had the solution too

    "I believe that any man or woman who, for a period of say five years, has earned his or her living in some lawful and useful occupation, without any recourse to public assistance, should be allowed to vote and that no one else should be allowed to vote."

    That will solve the problem. Seriously though, Labour has been scoring king hits and none of the so-called right wing wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to change that. Ppl don't get it anyway - most have just been complaining that they have no kids, or whatever, so they get nothing.

    We will get the government we deserve.

  3. The level of vitriol flying between left and right on the blogs alone is indicative of how socially 'inclusive' this spendthrift policy is. It seems to be acutely highlighting the state/anti-state divide.

    As Ruth said, we'll get the govt we deserve.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.