Thursday, 24 November 2016

MoW 2.0?


There is a lot of work to do post-earthquake, and political commentator and lifelong socialist Chris Trotter wants to get the red flag flying again by suggesting (by all accounts seriously) that the organisation famed for long lunchbreaks, sizeable cost overruns, and a lot of leaning on shovels be rebuilt, resurrected and let loose again on the unsuspecting taxpayer to do all (or at least a sizeable chunk) of that work.

Mr Trotter has considerable expertise in the texts of Marx and Lenin and in the blowing around of windy rhetoric – but very little else, it must be said, and certainly not in contracting of the sort he hopes a new state-run Ministry of Works would do. Christchurch engineer Mark Tammett however has considerable expertise in contracting, so is in the ideal position to set him straight about his dream: There are several holes, he begins, listing five before concluding:

You'd think that after the lessons of the 20th century, such as the fall of Communism, the failure of Socialism anywhere in the world to deliver anything but poverty; and to a lesser degree what's happened post earthquake with Christchurch -  that people would have learnt that government control of the economy never works, and never will. But judging may many comments on his thread, who enthusiastically support Trotter's suggestion, it looks like that lesson may need to be learned again in the 21st century.

Read his post here: Ministry of Works 2.0: Have the lessons of the past been forgotten? – Mark Tammett, PROCON



  1. 'Gov't control over the economy never works ,never will'. I don't think that lesson was ever learnt in the first place and people for what ever reason seem to have an undying faith in gov'ts ability to pull rabbits out of a hat as easy as they pull money out of productive peoples pockets, which they then magically make disappear, never to be seen again.

    1. I think it was learnt to some degree in the 20th century with the defeat of fascism, the fall of communism, the fading of socialism into near obscurity as a popular ideology, and a move towards freer markets from the 80's onwards. When you look at it from the context of what was happening 80-90 years ago we have made gains. But it clearly wasn't learnt enough. Robert Tracinski has opined that we're probably heading into an era of '20th century lite', where we have to re-learn those lessons again - but he's optimistic that 2nd time around it won't get as bad and the lessons will be relearnt quicker.

  2. Surely Trotter is old enough to remember MoW 1.0? Given the typical performance of that organisation, why would he imagine that resurrecting it would be a constructive approach to earthquake repairs?

  3. Because to him repairing post-earthquake is not his aim; it is a political opportunity.

    So the answer to your questions, in a word, is ideology.

  4. There's a classic line in one of Peter Jackson's early splat movies where aliens were taking over the place. Someone reporting on their whereabouts said they were dressed in yellow and just standing there.
    The retort was something along the lines of 'You idiot. Thats the Ministry of Works!'

  5. Yes but the private and foreign owned Insurance Companies did not do us at all well in the earthquake down here. There is suggestion from NZ First that assets should be retained buy the State but operated by NZ firms. When you sell out NZ assets to private interests they get dumped on the oversea markets [ Faye Richwhite and so on ]
    It is a common site in Australia at a road works site to see about 25 men with shovels leaning. I don't know what their system is.
    Anyway. Here comes Nationalism friends, like it or not.
    Many Maori voters are also with us on these issues.

    1. What rubbish. No insurer was perfect, but almost everyone I know in Chch would say the private/foreign owned insurance companies performed better than EQC - and to the extent performance was poor it was largely down to the complex system created by having both EQC and a private insurer involved in most claims. There was lack of clarity and dispute over who covered what. If there was no EQC and 100% private it would have been no doubt better.

      Also there were billions of dollars poured into NZ from overseas because they were foreign owned, mitigating to a large degree the 'broken window fallacy' on a local level. It's hard to imagine insurance companies funded 100% locally could have handled an event like Chch without the country going bankrupt. And instead of being grateful for this, you want to stop them insuring us??


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