What can you say about the National-led government and its leader Guy Smiley after their one year in office.
Well, what is there to say? Their list of concrete achievements is … let’s be polite … slight. Not to say, almost non-existent. When it comes to boasting, there’s practically nothing to be boasting about.
Helen Clark once had the temerity to say that her ambition for her Premiership was that New Zealanders wouldn’t have to wake up every morning to discover that her government had done something drastic overnight. I say temerity, because the irony can’t have escaped her. By contrast, under John Boy’s Premiership New Zealanders have woken up after a year to find that his government actually has done nothing – not even to roll back the few things they promised to, or New Zealanders hoped they would. In fact, after a year New Zealanders might wake up and look around with a clear eye and realise there’s been no real change at all:
- Nanny is still with us.
- Her anti-smacking law is still with us.
- The Electoral Finance Act is on the way back again.
- The Resource Management Act is fundamentally unchanged.
- Rates continue to rise at double the rate of the CPI.
- The global warming/emissions trading scams proceed apace.
- Our substance is still eaten out by KiwiRail and KiwiBank, KiwiSaver and Welfare for Working Families, by bureaucrats and central bankers, by the IRD and ACC -- and by politicians whose snouts are already in the trough with an arrogance that normally takes three terms to develop, not just one-third of the first one.
- And in the face of the biggest economic crisis in seventy years, we have a Finance Minister who can talk only about “sharp edges” and “green shoots,” and between times makes a deer in the headlights look purposeful, and Michael Cullen look principled.
Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously declared that “You shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste.” The Bill & John Show haven’t just wasted the opportunity of their lifetime to make-over New Zealand’s government into a lean mean non-frightening machine. They’ve also wasted the opportunity handed to them on a plate of an opposition with all the appeal to the electorate of a fart in an astronaut suit.
They’ve taken these twin opportunities and done . . . nothing. In fact, worse than nothing.
They haven’t taken out-of-control government spending by the throat – instead they’ve watched in grow.
They’ve done nothing to reduce the decades of ballooning deficits – instead they’ve acquiesced as deficits have ballooned, and the fiscal child abuse has exploded.
They haven’t done anything to take the shackles off New Zealand businesses – all they’ve done is “reform” the RMA to take the shackles off New Zealand’s government projects, and “reform” Auckland by constructing a new super-bureaucracy.
They haven’t done anything to meet their election-winning promise of “substantial” tax cuts of “around $50 a week for most New Zealanders” – instead they’ve delivered ACC levy increases, and indications of whole new taxes on the horizon.
They’ve added new asset confiscation rules and new and heinous search and surveillance powers which belong to a police state, not a civilised State.
Bernard Darnton said one-and-a-half years ago that he looked forward to seeing the back of Helen Clark, but did not look forward to seeing the front of John Key.
One year on from exchanging one from another, the only visible difference is a smile and the endless repetition of the word “relaxed.” But of fundamental change there is none.
There’s another anniversary this week too that’s worth thinking about in the context of “change”: the twenty-year anniversary of of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Writing at the Mises Economics Blog, Richard Ebeling reflects on The Fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Continuing Threats to Liberty that we all still have to confront [hat tip Mark Hubbard]:
“We need to emphasize the threat that Big Government represents to all our freedom — including the right of freedom of movement — and which should be remembered on this 20-year celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately, the Collectivist mentality did not end with either the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union. It remains alive and well in America [and New Zealand] and around the world, with its insistence that the individual lives for and is to be sacrificed to “interests” of the state. We still have our work cut out for us, to demolish the numerous political ‘walls’ with which the government continues to enslave us through its police power in the growing interventionist-welfare state and the threatening economic fascist order.”
There’s a lesson there that John Boy and his grinning confreres in cabinet might care to grasp -- and those over whom they preside might care to remind them.