She’s right, you know.
Josie Pagani, that is, saying National is coasting on its rival's policy:
The left has already won this election.
John Key's National Party is still high in the polls, not because the values of the right are popular, but because National's pitch is essentially, "Trust us to implement Labour policy. We'll spend a bit less than them doing it, and if you're lucky we'll give you a tax cut from the savings -- maybe."
The left won the contest of ideas a long time ago, and National has completely capitulated… promising only to administer the policy wins of the left.
On that, she’s absolutely right. On the battle of ideas, the left has already won this election. It’s so patently obvious it need hardly be debated.
Where she’s wrong is assuming that’s a good thing.
She says it’s a good thing for example that
National has rolled over and accepted the left's analysis that … the market can't fix everything. [That] National held its nose and intervened to rebuild Christchurch and fix the failing housing market.
Yet, when was the market given an opportunity to rebuild Christchurch? It worked very well until 4 hours after the earthquake when the government took over and closed the city down.
And, when has the market been given a chance to fix the failing housing market? It had been working moderately well for umpty-tum years until increasing council costs (brought on by Sandra Lee’s 2001 Local Government Act intervention) and the increasing planning stranglehold on land (brought on largely by National’s 1993 Resource Management Act) began sending housing costs through the roof – and even while supply went through the floor demand has been kept high by newly issued debt courtesy of the Reserve Bank.
Being at the intersection of the three of the most heavily regulated and interventionist “markets” in the land – building, planning and money creation – all areas that have been reformed from the “leftist” menu -- it’s no surprise that what the housing “market” has managed to deliver has been large gains for some at the expense of misery for many.
Such is the pattern of heavily regulated and interventionist “markets” everywhere.
And it’s no surprise to discover that the leftist-inspired top-down solutions in Christchurch have failed to set anything alight apart from anger and resentment and very little rebuilding that really deserves the name.
Such is the general pattern when governments attempt to direct markets in direction people don’t wish to go.
Such would be the tragedy repeated in every other area should the Nats’ ideological capitulation be given voice in the other areas Josie would have them further gum up: in “actively managing the economy in favour of exporters and producers” (and so lowering the dollar that it would reduce real wages for everyone); in further raising minimum wages (and so locking out teenagers and the low-waged from ever rising up the employment ladder); in regulating the prices of energy companies (guaranteeing both shortages and falling energy investment); and in tying up “the supermarket duopoly” (all but guaranteeing either shortages or rising prices).
Josie’s right that for years the Nats have capitulated in every ideological battle they have encountered – bringing always and in every policy debate just a pop gun to the left’s ideological nuclear weapons. As Lindsay Perigo and myself and undoubtedly many others have and will have pointed out, this is the real reason, if there is one, for what the left have called “dirty politics.”
But where Josie is very wrong is in assuming the Nats’ “management” of their capitulation has made anyone outside the immediate political arena better off.