Thursday, 8 March 2007

Hide speech. Let's play 'Spot the Platitude'

I turned with excitement and expectation to Rodney Hide's lunchtime speech, a speech Rodney himself had excitedly called "an important speech to set the scene for ACT for the year." Oh dear. Rodney appears to have been drinking from the same trough as John Boy Key, and swallowed the same platitudes: thuthtainability -- "don't dream it, be it" -- we need to make "tough choices" -- "we need to be "smart greens" -- we need to avoid frightening the horses. "Let's play Spot the Platitude' with Rodders, shall we:
  • We can be the proud, prosperous, confident, caring country we all yearn for. We just need to dream it, believe it, work for it.
  • ACT's job this year is to spell out how High Performance Government can be achieved. That's what I will be doing in a series of speeches through the year.
  • It's not good enough to be 'green'. We need to be 'Smart Green'. That means acknowledging and working with the uncertainties of climate change and climate change policy. Let's be clear - climate change is happening...
  • ...we should be smart greens. On the forestry front, it's easy. We should respect people's property - and get the incentives right. That means allowing forest owners to keep the carbon credits that are due to the trees they own.
  • Anything that we can do to reduce our dependence on oil has to be good for the country - and co-incidentally helps us with climate change concerns.
  • ACT will continue to speak out on the stupidities of government. But we want to do more than that. We want to lift our country's ambitions for what we can achieve and set out what we must do to become the greatest country in the world.
  • High Performance Government requires much greater oversight of laws and regulations before they are passed. We also need to regularly review all laws and regulations to keep tabs on their effects and their cost. That's what my Regulatory Responsibility Bill - which is now before Parliament - does...
  • We also need a proper contract where the government that takes our money provides a service in return. Right now there's nothing. We pay and pay and pay, but instead of receiving the services we pay for - like healthcare, education and infrastructure - we're made to wait. My colleague, Heather Roy, calls it "the waiting list society".
  • Managing a business, being part of a family or running a Government department means making tough choices...
Oh God, the inanity -- it burns! If this is the "speech to set the scene for ACT for the year," then it's going to be a very dull year indeed for ACT supporters.

UPDATE 1: To objections that Rodney is simply "talking in language that people can understand," I say he's talking without really saying very much. Here's an example of the sort of thing Rodney might have said, and from the pen of a mild-mannered philosophy professor:
Just as it is possible to know that freeing those held in slavery is better all around than keeping them enslaved -- and that not perpetrating the Holocaust is better than doing so -- in less dramatic matters, too, it is possible to know that certain policies are superior to others. It is the contention of those who champion a free society that implementing the principles of the right to private property on the broadest possible scope would have worked out for better as far as our environmental woes are concerned. And as with those more Draconian evils, so with this one, it is better late than never! Thus the best approach to environmental issues is to privatize—that is how responsible environmental management is encouraged...
Now wouldn't that have been a call to arms! Instead, we have this vapid, insipid uninspiring nonsense: "We need to be 'Smart Green'. That means acknowledging and working with the uncertainties of climate change and climate change policy." Bleeecchhh!

UPDATE 2: Vigesimal Pundit has drawn my attention to Rodney's use of "We."
Rodney Hide's recent speech is full of lines like 'We need to,' or 'We should.' I often get confused when politicians call on other politicians to do something that it isn't in their interests.
Fifty-one times the word "we" is used. "We" should do this; "we" must dream the other; "we" were once great; "we" can be again. It's not at all clear which "we" refers to all New Zealanders, which to other politicians, which to the ACT party ("we" can be great again!) -- and which to the "Royal We" -- but after fifty-odd usages in what must have been a ten to fifteen minute speech, it must have been somwhat tiresome for those attending, if not more than a wee bit confusing.

LINK: Environmentalism without government - Tibor Machan, Mises Institute

RELATED POSTS ON: NZ Politics, Sustainability, PC on the ACT Party


  1. I saw it more as an opportunity to highlight that command and control does more damage to the environment than the free market - but in language that the ordinary person might pick up on.

    i.e. that environmental regulation often has unintended consequences, so in order to be truely green you have to avoid these unintended consequences, and the best way is with the free market...

    Thats just how I interpreted it though.

  2. I interpreted it as Rodney making a desperate bid for the so-called "middle ground".
    He ended up sounding as unprincipled and opportunistic as those he claims to oppose.
    Which--I guess--is the middle ground now.

  3. Guys, as a politician, Rodney can hardly claim to be a scientist, can he?

    What do you do when you as a politician get confronted by conflicting scientists? Take sides? This part of the speech has nothing to do with "middle ground" but with how you as a politician respond to issues arising. Conflicting science happens all the time. As a poltician you are sometimes asked to make decisions. Actually that's the bread and butter of being a politician. So Rodney says here, given the conflicting evidence, what should my responds be to those that claim we should do nothing and those who claim we should go back to the cave.

    If libertarianz just get all upset when they read a trigger word instead of actually reading what an opponent has to say, no wonder they have little credibility and few voters.

  4. no wonder they have little credibility and few voters.

    Says an ACT supporter. Oh, too funny.

  5. I infinitely prefer this to what the Libertarianz Party MP said... oh wait there isn't one.

    I would just like to point out one thing about what it says about climate change. "Let's be clear - climate change is happening. *The earth's climate has always been changing*, but when we study it, the uncertainties are significant. Pete Hodgson said Kyoto would be worth $500 million. We are now told it's going to cost us $500 million. He was a billion dollars out."
    Note he is saying that the climate has always changed and not that it is a new thing.

    You did yourself no favours by not quoting him fairly.

  6. If accuracy of quoting is important, UKer, and I agree with you that it is, then shouldn't you hold yourself to that standard?

    The paragraph I quoted on climate change is a whole paragraph. One paragraph is one idea -- that's the point of a paragraph. I quoted it as a whole paragraph.

    But you've mashed together two paragraphs here, and then added an emphasis that wasn't there in the original.

    Now why would you want to do that?

  7. BTW, it should be obvious WHY politicians write and deliver speeches in a manner that allows one to take more than one reading from them.

    Now, why do you think it would be?


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