In which Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.
1. PM to ministers: Pay for spouses' trips yourself – John Key wants his MPs to pay the air fares of their dearly beloved when the latter accompany them on junkets. Similarly, the taxpayer will no longer be forced to pay for MPs’ hair cuts and gym memberships, but the Sky TV subscription will remain paid for with Other People’s Money.
Well, it’s a start.
Key feels pressured after Phil Goff pointed out that National have spent more than double what Labour did on ministerial travel in their first three months in office. Interestingly, now that the Mt Albert by-election is over, John Key admonishes his MPs, saying he doesn’t want to see ministers travelling for no particular reason. Of course, the cluster of high-ranking National and Labour MPs that found they had business in Auckland just before the by-election was purely coincidental.
Despite all this anguish over abuse of taxpayer dollars, I can’t help thinking John Key has missed the forest for the trees. Most of his government departments could have their entire budgets slashed, if the National Party had the integrity to implement policies consistent with its core values, namely: individual freedom and choice, limited government, personal responsibility, competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement. I can only think of one party that would follow through on these values.
2. Pay Equity Protest At Parliament – I almost feel sorry for Labour and their trade union lackeys, protesting against the scrapping of a pay equity investigation and the disbanding of the pay and equity unit at the Labour Department [Well done, Mr Key - now disband the department itself, and allow the private sector to match people to jobs without bureaucrats getting in the way].
Poor old Helen Kelly. She is fighting a lost battle, over an issue that is increasingly irrelevant in today’s changing markets.
If one employee is more productive than another, an employer is likely (if he or she has any sense) to pay the more productive employee more. The way for women to gain ‘pay equity’ (which is a nebulous concept anyway), is for them to outstrip men in terms of productivity on average. Which means: individual women striving hard to match and surpass males doing the same job.
Helen Kelly and her rent-a–mob need only look at her namesake, another Ms Kelly, the Westpac CEO, whose 2008 remuneration package can be seen on page 21 in this report: a rather nice $8.5M – nearly $3M ahead of the male in second place. The Acting CEO of Westpac NZ was getting a measly $1.1M.
Women can make it in business – they don’t need help from politicians, however well-meaning. Kelly and her mob are asking for equal pay for all, regardless of productivity. I think they’re making fools of themselves.
3. Private hospitals get greater public role – While this might sound a good idea, and both ACT and National seem to think it is, I think it will backfire on the private sector and on the standards of health care.
Private providers are being asked to jump into bed with politicians, and to accept blood money – extorted from New Zealanders by the IRD – for their services. Tony Ryall is cunning – he is looking to pick off private providers during the economic downturn, when their business is slow and they are looking for opportunities elsewhere. Unfortunately they may find the government screwing down the prices they are willing to pay, and wanting more and more control over how these providers operate. The distinction between public and private will become increasingly blurred, and before they know it some of these private contractors will wake up one morning to find themselves state servants.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
4. Alcohol prices to rise with tax hikes tomorrow – The new government agrees with old government that drinking, like earning money, is sinful and should be taxed in order to discourage it. Not so sinful, mind you, to ban alcohol from Beehive functions, but too much for the serfs to be able to use wisely.
How patronising! Never mind the jobs that will be threatened when the price of alcohol to the consumer rises. I wonder whether, during a time of economic deflation, sin taxes would be lowered?
Only one political party promises No New Taxes for New Zealanders: an end to GST (a tax which hits less well-off people the hardest), and people being allowed to keep the first $50,000 of income earned. In time, excise taxes on booze and cigarettes would disappear as well. How can this be done? Privatise those government departments and ministries that could serve some useful purpose, and dump the rest; stop paying no-hopers to breed; stop trapping people in welfare dependency; and stop penalizing those who work hard and create wealth. Common sense, really.
See y’all next week!
* * Richard McGrath’s DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S column appears every Wednesday here at NOT PC * *