Borrowing to fake credibility
JOHN KEY"S NATIONAL PARTY thinks New Zealanders are stupid. He and his cronies think dishonesty works, and they're prepared to run an election campaign on that basis -- that's the only conclusion one can draw from the headline announcements at the party's annual conference over the weekend.
An honest political party would not maintain that one can maintain current spending levels in every area (including the Welfare for Working Families programme it has now promised to keep) and even increase spending in some areas (such as a new 'Ministry of Infrastructure'), and still be able to afford tax cuts.
An honest political party would know that if you offer serious tax cuts, you need to make commensurately serious cuts in spending.
An honest political party knows that offering tax cuts while "borrowing to fund infrastructure" is just smoke and mirrors for "we're borrowing to fund tax cuts." Only a blind, deaf and dumb National supporter would think otherwise. (And an honest National party supporter would remember that one of the few promises John Key and Bill English have made is that he will "not borrow to fund tax cuts." So much for honesty when pre-election promises are broken before the election campaign has really begun!)
An honest political party would know something else as well. Building "infrastructure" is said by dishonest parties to be different to other government spending, which is all consumption spending. Spending on infrastructure is said to be "investment." An honest political party knows that this is bullshit.
Investments have two characteristics which distinguish them from consumption spending: 1) they show a return; and 2) they finance their own replacement. An honest political party would know that however you try to slice it, neither is the case with "infrastructure spending." Borrowing to fund infrastructure is just borrowing to fund a shinier more politically correct kind of consumption, and taking capital away from genuinely productive investment that will actually increase wealth instead of consume it.
HONESTY HAS NEVER BEEN a primary National Party principle. Power lust always has been. At this election, the National Party wants to pay lip service to free enterprise and smaller government while ruling out anything, anything at all, that smacks of either of those of its two stated principles.
The National Party has become the stale, hypocritical salon which Ayn Rand describes as "Party X":
Party X would oppose statism and would advocate free enterprise. But it would know that one cannot win anybody's support by repeating that slogan until it turns into a stale, hypocritical platitude—while simultaneously accepting and endorsing every step in the growth of government controls.
Party X would know that opposition does not consist of declaring to the voters: "The Administration plans to tighten the leash around your throats until you choke—but we're lovers of freedom and we're opposed to it, so we'll tighten it only a couple of inches."
Party X would not act as Exhibit A for its enemies, when they charge that it is passive, stagnant, "me-tooing" and has no solutions for the country's problems. It would offer the voters concrete solutions and specific proposals, based on the principles of free enterprise. The opportunities to do so are countless, and Party X would not miss them...
Knowing that a cut in taxes should be accompanied by a corresponding cut in government spending, Party X would compute the costs and choose the specific government projects it would promise to abolish. If the country heard some concrete details of what those taxes are spent on—such as the story of a few foreign lobbies—anyone but a confirmed totalitarian would scream in protest.
Party X would set the pattern for the gradual lifting of the tax bur-den—at a time when both business and labor are beginning to realize that the best way to save a collapsing economy is to leave more of their own money to the citizens who earned it.
The National Party wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants voters to think that it's possible to fake reality -- that one can offer tax cuts while promising to raise government spending in every area .
UPDATE 1: You might recall that John Boy told a recent Local Government conference, i.e., the annual bun-fest for council bureaucrats: "It’s my view that central government has much to learn from local government when it comes to infrastructure planning, investment, and management." Perhaps if you'd like to go to your desk and take out your recent rates bill, and compare it to the same bill from, say, five years ago, you'll have some indication of just how much he thinks central government has much to learn from local government when it comes to infrastructure planning, investment, and management, and how much it's going to cost you.
UPDATE 2: Liberty Scott comments on National's Think Big "infrastructure policy": National looks to Muldoon and Pork