Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Scoop Feedback: Controversial New James Bond

Scoop Feedback: Controversial New James Bond

The following is a selection of feedback and other unsolicited email received by Scoop recently. The opinions they contain do not necessarily reflect those of Scoop.

They do not appear in any precise order.

Send feedback to Scoop: http://www.scoop.co.nz/about/feedback.html or editor@scoop.co.nz

*********
Top Next

Great Song About Plight of Jammu/Kashmir------ Liquid Blue, an act from the United States that has performed in more nations than any other act in modern history, has released a song called KASHMIR which may be one of the best songs ever written in English about the region and its people. The track was produced by grammy winner Joe Chiccarelli and is available on the bands highly acclaimed, multi~award winning album, Supernova.

The band would like to donate the song to charities that provide relief to the Kashmiri people. Please contact manager Scott Stephens at manager@liquid-blue.com if your organization is interested in using this song to raise money for Jammu-Kashmir on a compilation CD or other media.

Link to song-

http://www.broadjam.com/artists/artist_playlist.asp?artistID=13774

Link to lyrics and story behind the song-

http://www.liquid-blue.com/music/themes/01KashmirTheme.htm

Link to Liquid Blue website- www.LiquidBlue.net

Peace,
Scott Stephens
Manager
Liquid Blue

*********
Top Next

[Possibly re: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0510/S00276.htm or http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0510/S00179.htm]

Your blurb on the Prime TV Video of Paul Holmes' interview with Prime Minister Helen Clark [21 October] falls into the common trap of dubbing Messrs Peters and Dunn centre-right politicians.

They have been and continue to be two politicians of the centre.

Only a misguided media desire to apparently maintain a first-past-the-post system [r.i.p] come what may, would locate them either 'left'[Labour] or 'right'[National].

It's time to politically upgrade and catch up with the play.

What has been stitched together for the next three years is a new government that clearly has moved from the centre-left to the centre. This is an accurate reflection of how all voting New Zealanders cast their ballots.

You could even call it 'mainstreaming,' possums!

*********
Top Next

Hi there,

I see you carry a regular column of commentary from the Maxim Instutite. Where is the Scoop piece on the Bruce Logan plagiarism affair? I've used you search engine but it does not bring anything up.

Regards

Geoff V

*********
Top Next

To all of the synchophantic left-wing media who wrote off the possibility of a shift to the political right after the election. Always make sure that your words are sweet and tender in the future, for one day (today being that day), you will have to eat them. The dog control officers of United Future and NZ First have tamed the Labour hound. Now don't you journalists be shy, when tucking into that humble pie!

Yours faithfully

Steve Taylor

*********
Top Next

Regarding the comments of Judge Philip Recordon on domestic violence, I noted that he failed to recognise that women can also be perpetrators of violence.....oh wait, that's right, nobody cares about that branch of domestic violence - only women and children can be victims, not men. Until society recognises that domestic violence is perpetrated by both genders, we will never be able to rid ourselves of this problem.

*********
Top Next

Well, hopefully those who intended to vote Greens but didn't and went for Labour as a "defensive move" won't do that again!

*********
Top Next

Dear Editor

“Spending too much” NZ Herald, 15 October 2005

Whilst Alan Bollard is busy telling us we're "spending too much," on page-A8, the Commerce Commission are suing 50 small credit providers for “failing to meet their obligations to customers.” Apparently for having their fees too high and giving insufficient consumer information.

What hypocrisy! These criticisms have applied to the banking system for decades. These small providers aren't the only ones “screwing the people at the bottom of the stack.” A friend was "fined" an accumulated $71 without warning for overdrawing after the bank withdraw its fees. The five foreign-owned banks also produce credit, in the same way, out of fresh air. There is little wonder that our overseas debt stands at $124 billion. While we live under this debt-based monetary system, our associated economic despair will continue. Because of it, most Kiwis are of necessity “up to their neck in mortgage debt,” that is unless unlucky enough to be a student, in which case they have two! As for a Superannuation, isn’t that why we pay tax? How about Dr Bollard gets government to issue its own (real) money instead of constantly going cap-in-hand to the foreign-owned usurers we call banks. It would cure Dr Cullen’s “fiscal loosening” worries.

Sincerely
Robert Anderson
Tauranga

*********
Top Next

See the replies to Roger Kerr interspersed in the
article below prefaced by MZ:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0510/S00183.htm

Ideology And Pragmatism In Public Policy
Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 11:16 am
Speech: New Zealand Business Roundtable

11 October 2005
Ideology And Pragmatism In Public Policy
Roger Kerr Executive Director Wellington New
Zealand Business Roundtable
Delivered at Stokes Valley Rotary Club
An exchange at the meeting between representatives of the Green Party and the business community in Wellington a fortnight ago stimulated the reflections in this talk. One of the Greens present described support for free trade as an ‘ideological’ position. What did the speaker mean by ideological, I wondered? After all, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes were all free traders. A pretty broad ideological spectrum, you might think.
That’s not the first time I’ve had occasion to reflect on the term ideology, of course. Critics of New Zealand’s post-1984 economic reforms bandied it around freely. Indeed, as a recent book on globalisation put it:
It is close to a conventional wisdom that over the past two decades a group of ideological fanatics, called ‘neo-liberals’, have succeeded in imposing their creed on an innocent humanity, at the expense of democracy, prosperity, equality, the environment, human rights, decent treatment of labour and, indeed, everything that is good and wholesome. This view of the history of the past two decades is almost entirely mistaken.
First, while liberal ideas (not ‘neo-liberal’, since that is an incomprehensible piece of neo- Marxist jargon) have made progress over the past two decades, they have not done so through the offices of passionate liberals. On the contrary, the policy changes that go under the heading of ‘neo-liberal’ have been introduced as often by long-standing socialists and communists as by parties that would be considered on the political right. The principal reason for this transformation was failure of the alternatives, symbolized so powerfully by the collapse of the Soviet empire between 1989 and 1991. For a time, some theoreticians of the left, including some in New Zealand’s Labour Party, tried to find a ‘third way’ between socialism and a market economy. The project failed; we seldom hear talk of the ‘third way’ today. In reality, the drive behind the market-oriented reforms in New Zealand was the practical recognition that alternative policies had been tested to destruction. The focus of the reformers was on policies that worked – as demonstrated by orthodox economic reasoning and results.

MZ: The economic aspect of any policy question is just one of many that are considered in policy making. Shared values is another. Many aspects of economic development actually works against local business, agriculture and neighborhood cohesion. Here in Albuquerque,New Mexico, USA some want to provide incentives for high-tech industries in spite of the conflict that this raises with a limited supply of water. Housing is sought in outlying areas and undeveloped regions that seeks to replicate the impact of the Megalopolis and surburban boom of the 50s. The social costs of inner city decline, crime, and marginalized communities are disregarded. Because of their political influence at the local level the economic interests of one group, the home construction industry and developers becomes the focal point for the discussion. Wal-Marts are increasingly view by neighborhood associations with a Not-In-My-Back-Yard attitude for good reason. Policies work for different segments of the economy for different reasons. Industrial Revenue Bonds work to attract multi-national corporations, they do not work for local businesses that seek to grow. What works for corporations is low wages. What results are wage levels for the entire work-force of the region are depressed wages and importation of an outside labor force of technical experts. Likewise, deregulation of industries have worked to the benefit of financial and corporate interests. The downside is a loss of public oversight and accountability, as was seen in Enron and the Savings and Loan debacle in the US. Environmental laws that increase the cost of business were designed to ameliorate the situation in cities such as Pittsburgh where the smog from the steel mills made it difficult to see beyond a block at noontime. The experience of the Union Carbide poisoning of thousands in Bhopal demonstrate the real danger in making the economy the sole criteria of policy-making. Similarly, the recent events in New Orleans demonstrates that public infrastructure and conservation of the wetlands is not something that any city can take for granted for the benefit of maintaining economic growth.


The Business Roundtable’s approach has been based on the same principles, firmly grounded in experience. Nevertheless, it is still sometimes put to me by critics that our proposals are ‘ideological’ as opposed to ‘pragmatic’. This contrast is false. Everyone involved in the debate about public policy argues on the basis of some set of principles or ideas, whether or not they are conscious of them or make them explicit. Conversely, those who want their ideas to have an impact on public policy have to be ‘pragmatic’ in the sense that they must pay some regard to the practicability of their proposals and the compromises that may be necessary in implementing them.

MZ: Practicality is not the same as “the greatest good for the greatest number” as a criterion for policy implementation. What practicality should mean is whether there is within the proposed laws the accompanying measures to raise the revenues necessary to implement them. Greens have long advocated tax reforms, carbon taxes and other measures to begin to address the social costs of pollution and to pay for the research and development needed for a transition to alternative energy sources. The Dutch chose to make a significant public contribution to the levees it needed to avoid a catastrophe. ABC Nightline reported after New Orleans: Netherlands, Sept. 17, 2005 — Half of the Netherlands sits below sea level, so the tragedy in New Orleans hits home with the Dutch. They have been through it themselves: In 1953, a huge flood in the Netherlands killed nearly 2,000 people and left 70,000 homeless. The flood led to dramatic changes. The Netherlands spent $8 billion over 30 years fortifying the coastline with a sophisticated system of dikes, dams and levees. Dutch law now requires that coastal defenses protect against the worst storm imaginable.


The attempt to endow the term ‘ideological’ with unfavourable connotations and ‘pragmatic’ with favourable ones likewise involves a certain sleight of hand. The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition) gives the following as the primary meaning of ‘ideology’:
The science of ideas; that department of philosophy or psychology that deals with the origin and nature of ideas.
No problem there, then. As the secondary meaning it offers this:
Ideal or abstract speculation: in a deprecatory sense, unpractical or visionary theorizing or speculation.
Note that even this secondary meaning is not necessarily ‘deprecatory’. There is nothing intrinsically wrong, and much intrinsically right, with ‘ideal or abstract speculation’, even though the word ‘ideological’ can be used in a way that conveys disapproval of it.
What then about ‘pragmatism’? One Oxford dictionary definition is “matterof- fact treatment of things; attention to facts”. That’s certainly something to aspire to. A further, political meaning is attributed to the term, and it’s this that our critics have in mind: Theory that advocates dealing with social and political problems primarily by practical methods adapted to the existing circumstances, rather than by methods which have been conformed to some ideology.
I see nothing wrong with employing “practical methods adapted to existing circumstances”, but the issue is the implied contrast with “ideology”. That may or may not exist. An ideologue, to use the term in a pejorative sense, will use methods sanctioned by an ideology even if they cannot be “adapted to existing circumstances”.
There is no sense in which a policy can be correct in theory but wrong in practice: if the practice goes wrong, the theory is defective (as socialism demonstrated). But the deeper point is that, whatever practical methods are used, there has to be some body of ideas that explains why they work, even if those who employ those 3 methods are unaware of them. Understanding what works and what doesn’t – which we need to do if we are to improve our practices – involves grasping the theory behind it.

MZ: It is not ideologically based to apply what is commonly known as the Precationary Principle in the evaluation of policies, actions and inactions. “Although there is no consensus definition of what is termed the precautionary principle, one oft-mentioned statement, from the so-called Wingspread conference in Racine, Wis., in 1998 sums it up: "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." http://www.biotech-info.net/uncertainty.html It is no more or less than anticipating the impact of certain policies given the real science- based potential for public harm that remains a distinct possibility. How do you make this “practical” when it suggests that the interests of a few represents a distinct public danger to the many? Why are nuclear waste disposal sites so far from populated areas? If Love Canal, NY has taught people nothing than we are doomed to repeat scenarios of inaction followed by periods of crisis and devastation, such as New Orleans.


What many critics are doing, however, when they draw a contrast between the ‘ideological’ and the ‘pragmatic’ is to use these terms as codes respectively for ‘less government’ (meaning that it’s bad) and ‘more government’ (meaning that it’s good). For example, David Skilling of the New Zealand Institute is reported in the National Business Review of 6 August 2004 as advocating a move away from a policy of avoiding distortions in the private sector to a policy of selective intervention. He is quoted as saying: This is a less pure, more pragmatic approach to economic policy that is aimed at crowding-in economic activity and assisting New Zealand business to create wealth, and is less concerned about the possibility of crowding out.1 It isn’t obvious why a policy of greater intervention should be “less pure”, “more pragmatic” or more desirable than one of less intervention. Surely the focus should be on which works better? Answering this question requires some theory about how government intervention affects the economy and society. As the saying goes, there’s nothing so practical as a good theory. What matters is which of the alternative theories is the sounder, and that comes down to which of them is more consistent with the evidence, as well as the values that they embody or promote. I’m happy to defend the Business Roundtable’s proposals on those terms. But let’s get away from the false notion that certain policies are somehow ‘pragmatic’ by definition, as if we know in advance that they will work, whereas others are ‘ideological’, as if they are supported regardless of whether or not they work.


MZ: The position of the Business RoundTable contradicts the claims of the author of this piece. It prefers not to integrate the social costs of private investment as a contributing factor in reviewing policies. In other words, government is fine when it comes to providing mechanisms that enables corporations to build a new facility, but it is interfering when it requires they pay for the use of the region’s resources that they deplete that can’t be renewed. British Columbia is spotted with regions that were clear-cut by Taiwanese and Japanese timber companies without replanting or restoration of the forests. This raises the moral issue as to why corporations are permitted to damage the common resources of the people of a region or a nation without just compensation. Due process than becomes, “I own it, I do what I want with it”. This is not practicality at all. Nor is it “the greatest good for the greatest number”. The RoundTable prefers to blame GreenPeace and a worldwide consensus on the medical impact of DDT. It points to the cost in lives of malaria to demonstrate its point. They are not two mutually exclusive propositions, but they are made so by those who met with the Green Party in New Zealand in an article posted at this same website: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0510/S00118.htm DDT is not the only possibility to limit mosquito populations. In New Orleans they have used the insecticide Dibrom (also known as naled), after the flood, that has fewer demonstrated health risks associated with it.


Once we have agreed that all positions about the role of government rest on some general idea, or ‘theory’ if you like, about how government works, to characterise policy proposals as either ‘ideological’ or ‘pragmatic’ is at best a confusion and at worst a rhetorical trick that appeals to antiintellectualism as a substitute for serious argument.
Of course, there is always a market for anti- intellectualism, that is, an impatient insistence that 1 http://www.nbr.co.nz/home/column_article.asp?id=9796&cid=18&cname=Opinion 4 we don’t need theories because the facts, once we have them, speak for themselves. But facts never speak for themselves. Even the simplest combination of data gives rise to controversy about how it should be interpreted (just consider, for example, the endless debate about the link between gun control laws and gun-related crime). Interpretation involves drawing some general idea, whether sound or not, about how the world works. Serious policy debate cannot proceed unless these ideas are articulated and tested.

MZ: Interpretation also implies that there is in fact agreed upon standards for cumulative impacts on the public health and safety of certain policies and actions whether they be governmental or corporate-based. Chernobyl took place in the absence of such standards and represented a public policy that did not integrate the worst case scenario into the development of the nuclear industry in the Soviet Union. Sound policy cannot be structured on pseudo-science, whether it is the denial of global warming or the belief that the groundwater under Albuquerque, New Mexico amounted to the equivalent of Lake Superior.


We can see why arguments for less government attract the label ‘ideological’ and those for more government ‘pragmatic’. The case for less government often rests on chains of cause and effect that may be long and even invisible, whereas the case for more government typically moves swiftly (if often deceptively) from problem to intervention to solution in an uncomplicated way.

MZ: The issue of “more government” is not what is at issue here. It is the matter of the public health, safety and welfare that is at stake. So far, corporations have demonstrated a consistent unwillingness to voluntarily accept their responsibilities as members of their communities in providing the measure to ensure public safety. Instead, they prefer to invest in policy-makers who seek to minimize their oversight and accountability. The billions of corporate donations to political candidates is their demonstration of their disregard for the public good. This willingness to circumvent their own obligations, in favor of undermining sound policies that are based on sound science exposes the corporate community as reckless and irresponsible in their approach toward their impact on the ecological systems that surround them.


For example, the protectionist can point to the benefits of import controls in terms of the jobs that have been saved (at least for the moment), but the free trader can’t so easily point to the costs of protectionism by identifying the jobs that protection destroys or prevents being created. Understanding the case for limited government requires a certain effort of analysis and a willingness to evaluate a wide range of evidence.
Not everyone is prepared to make such an effort, yet there is a theory (or idea) behind protectionism just as there is behind free trade. Interestingly, free trade is a case of a policy that is ultimately justified more on practical than theoretical grounds. To be sure, it rests on the fundamental economic principle of comparative advantage, but there are a number of theoretical arguments for departing from that principle: optimum tariff notions, strategic trade theory, infant industry arguments and the like. As a matter of practical policy, however, the vast majority of professional economists put aside these theories as unworkable and come down on the side of free trade, and the evidence is overwhelming that open economies outperform closed ones. The Greens, however, seem impervious to facts: their opposition to free trade does seem to be a matter of pure ideology.

MZ: Saying the issue is “free trade” does not mean that in the absence of these treaties corporations lack the capability to trade freely across national boundaries. Saying it is “free trade” just says that multi-national corporations are now free from national standards that have been established by duely constituted governments. These laws have been passed as a result of the acknowledgement of nation’s policy- makers that problems exist that need to be addressed. Undermining the laws of our own nations to facilitate the corporate interests of other nations puts the cost of such decisions on the backs of the people and prevents them from developing policies in the appropriate governmental entities to represent their interests and concerns.


For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, it is ironic that Keynes, arguably and unfortunately perhaps the most influential economist of the twentieth century, should have stressed the importance of ideas, even for self-styled pragmatists. As he wrote:
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back . . . Sooner or later, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.
The irony of this is that Keynes himself became a major example of those “defunct economists” who enslaved “practical men”. It was Keynes’s prescription that the balanced budget rule should be abandoned in times of recession that, more than anything else, facilitated and legitimised the socalled ‘pragmatic‘ growth of government after World War II by appearing to release policy makers from so-called ‘ideological’ constraints. That was emphatically not Keynes’s intention; he argued that budgets should be balanced over the economic cycle, and that deficit financing during recessions should be followed by surpluses during booms. But, as he himself said, “ideas . . . are dangerous for good or evil.”
Once the idea that governments could routinely borrow to cover current spending had gained ground in the wider society, why should they hold back? It took years of inflation, recession and generally disappointing economic performance to get that particular genie back into the bottle, and even now one wonders how secure the cork is. To make it more secure, New Zealand is one country that implemented a Fiscal Responsibility Act to require governments to follow Keynes’ rule that budgets should be balanced over the economic cycle. Finance minister Michael Cullen has recently re-enacted that legislation: he obviously doesn’t regard the balanced budget provision as ideological or undemocratic.
But when the Business Roundtable suggested, on largely pragmatic grounds, that because of New Zealand governments’ tendencies to excessive and wasteful spending, the rule should be supplemented by a tax and expenditure limitation, whereby spending growth should be constrained to the rate of population growth plus inflation unless a government got support from taxpayers for higher spending via a referendum, Dr Cullen denounced the proposal as ideological and undemocratic.

MZ: Clearly, the author is not suggesting a similar proposal for limitations on capital investment where the corporation is required to get public support for the additional infrastructure requirements incurred by economic growth. Impact fees in American cities remain a target of developers who seek to abolish any acknowledgement of the additional costs of their economic activity to the rest of the community. The fact is that many public services and infrastructure needs are virtually subsidized by local governments, while health costs are forced on a declining public health infrastructure here in the US and schools consist of portable buildings in place of new building construction needs. Instead, business invests in public campaigns during issues such as the living wage proposals leaving people to fend for themselves with no social safety net. This did not work in New Orleans, and it will not work in New Zealand.


Yet in response to democratic pressures, many US states and several countries with governments of different political persuasions have adopted such a rule or variants of it. As the Americans say, go figure! Another area where those who bandy around the term ideology should look at themselves in the mirror is the ownership of commercial enterprises. Socialist ideology embraced the notion of “public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”. Our current government is against privatisation of state-owned enterprises, and indeed has moved down the path of nationalisation. Yet the evidence is now compelling that – not always, but on average and over time – privately owned enterprises outperform state-owned enterprises in competitive environments, and it is the general rule that should inform sound public policy. Governments should not bet against the odds with taxpayers’ money. Thus while a body of economic literature has grown up explaining why private ownership of commercial enterprises is generally superior to state ownership, the fundamental argument for privatisation is pragmatic: it works. Another point to make is that, just as ideas are inescapable, as Keynes argued, so too is pragmatism, in the sense that in all walks of life we have to make compromises. Business people compromise and do deals the whole time.

MZ: Privatization is like deregulation, the promises it holds for a certain segment of the business community has no mechanism associated with it for the transition period. In the US, steel workers won a Trade Readjustment Act in 1974 that provided transitional support due to the dislocation of steel mills moving overseas. But, now even that is only maintained for a 26 week period after unemployment compensation runs out. Greens have worked tirelessly to develop a policy regarding renewable energy conversion that addresses the economic impact that this will have on both businesses and the general public. Businesses have resisted such policies in disregard of the oil peak and global warming, preferring to continue as things are with no policy to address changing circumstances.


Yet in a business setting, pragmatism without an eye to principles and long-run goals (for example, maximising shareholder value) can be ruinous. The same is true in politics. Politics has been described as the ‘art of the possible’, and that is true as far as it goes. Yet we need to add two qualifications that preserve a role for ideas in politics.
First, in making political compromises politicians should still observe certain principles: they can avoid what we recognise and condemn as expediency. For example, in the war on terror that some Western governments are waging, politicians may be tempted to scrap all the normal safeguards against the abuse of state power and to lock up terrorist suspects indefinitely subject to minimal procedures or none at all.
Alternatively, even where they suspend habeas corpus and detain suspects without charging them, they can set up procedures to review cases and hear appeals. These are matters of practical judgment. Sometimes politicians get it right, sometimes they don’t, but the point is that we do expect them to marry necessity with principle so that certain important values are preserved. Even in a dire emergency, it isn’t necessary for governments to arrogate to themselves absolute power and entirely evade the rule of law. Thus we need to distinguish between principled pragmatism and unprincipled expediency. The importance of that distinction, rather than the one between ideology and pragmatism, is perhaps the central message of this talk.

MZ: The government that is not based on the “consent of the governed” is not the one that has “absolute” power. It is the one that represents only a small segment of the national community at the expense of the rest. The business community should not presume that it represents the needs and concerns of an entire nation. It may make nifty mottoes, such as “The business of America is business” or “What’s good for General Motors is good for the nation”, but it does not promote sound, well-rounded policies that address the national interest. The national interest consists of a multitude of stakeholders with a multitude of issues relevant to governmental statutes and regulations. Further, “unprincipled expediency” can also be demonstrated through the implementation of restrictions and denial of legal rights to a small segment of the population. Witness the execution style murder by the police of the commuter in the London subway following the subway bombings. Dare we say that this is acceptable, pragmatic policy. At what cost?


The second qualification to the idea of politics as the ‘art of the possible’ that preserves a role for ideas is that politicians can be guided by long-term goals as well as short-term ones. Any government is inevitably preoccupied with winning the next election, as indeed is the opposition.
But it’s possible to do this with an eye on longer-term political achievements. Politicians who leave a positive mark on history are those who can make the necessary skills of everyday political survival serve the higher purpose of achieving long-run benefits for their nations. In recent history Margaret Thatcher is an outstanding example of such a politician. She won three successive elections but also carried out a counter-revolution in British economic policy that greatly expanded conceptions of what was ‘politically possible’ in other countries as well.
What is perhaps less well known is that Thatcher was also a cautious politician who usually knew when and where she had to compromise. She avoided the inevitable showdown with the coal miners’ union by making concessions to it where necessary over several years, and stood firm against it only when she was certain to win. Whether reforming governments of the 1980s and 1990s could have gone further without destroying their bases of support is debatable. Sir Roger Douglas has always argued that it was when they called off their reform drives that such governments lost support.
But their success in maintaining political and electoral support as they abandoned failed economic policies testifies to the ability of ordinary democratic politics to accommodate necessary change. Those who like to label the reforms of the Lange-Douglas government as anti- democratic conveniently overlook the fact that it was re-elected in 1987 with an increased majority.
Traditionally, the acceptable visions in democratic politics have been placed on a left- right spectrum that signifies positions on the desirable size of government and degree of redistribution. As these positions represent value judgments they cannot ultimately be proved or disproved, but they can be rendered more or less plausible or practical in the light of evidence and argument.
Political parties that want to see their values successfully embodied in public policy have to be open to new ideas. Much of what is ‘ideological’ in politics, in the pejorative sense of being impractical, comes from institutionalised attachment to means rather than ends; more exactly, the adoption or retention of particular measures (like state ownership of enterprises) becomes an end in itself, regardless of whether those measures have the effect that is claimed for them.
I would argue, for example, that if the political ‘left’ is seriously committed to social justice it has to generalise from the experience of economic reform to reform of the welfare state.
Centrally planned and controlled education and health systems have no more chance of realising egalitarian aspirations than did our old economic regime of regulations and state ownership, because they too inevitably operate primarily in the interests of their employees (such as the members of teachers’ and nurses’ unions) rather than the general public.

MZ: Experience in the US indicates that failing to ensure public education and public health does not provide an alternative mechanism needed to educate the children of a nation and does nothing to secure health care that is accessible and affordable. Instead, it assures that the next generation will not be provided with the education needed for governing a nation and sustaining the economy. It assures that the older generation will live in fear at the prospect of trying to survive when health care is not affordable.


Correspondingly, those on the political ‘right’ who favour a greater role for the private sector need to attend to the issues of corporate governance raised by cases of corporate wrongdoing, primarily by ensuring that existing laws are enforced and by strengthening the property rights of shareholders against the possibility of malpractice by management. They should also seek to overcome the old-fashioned, debilitating employer-employee divide by promoting fully contractual relationships in which all aspects of life in the workplace can be negotiated.
This brings us back to policy think tanks like the Business Roundtable. Precisely because the pressure on politicians to compromise with immediate interests for short-term gain is so great, their job is to frame and publicise the ‘first-best’ versions of policies for politicians to work with.

MZ: The premise that regulations of corporate entities are sufficient is repeatedly challenged by their abuse of power and privilege. If the Greens can sustain a base of voter support of people unwilling to accept this, more power to them. It is time to demonstrate that business is just as accountable as the general public in its conduct and behavior. They do not represent a greater good in and of themselves.


They do need to make pragmatic judgments about which new policy ideas are likely to be entertained by public opinion, and to present them in imaginative and appealing ways. However, their mission must be to expand the politically possible, mindful that what today is accepted as conventional wisdom yesterday seemed controversial and radical. In principle, they act as conduits between, on the one hand, the pure theoreticians, researchers and academics who are professionally committed to the pursuit of knowledge wherever it takes them, and, on the other hand, the politicians who introduce the policies that embody new knowledge. The Business Roundtable has seen its role as being to engage in advocacy that is accessible to lay people (as the products of original research are likely to be) and is not diluted by the pressure to placate special interests that politicians are subjected to all the time. By taking ideas and evidence seriously, it aims to make it easier for politicians to introduce new and better policies.
Politicians, for their part, are the ones best placed to judge what is politically possible, and the practical ways of implementing better policies. But the most admired politicians are not those who timidly preside over the status quo; they are the political entrepreneurs with the will and ability to persuade voters why changes will benefit them and future generations. In doing so, they will invariably need to be armed with a body of ideas that explains why the changes will work. Principled pragmatism of this kind, with a sound conceptual base, is the best strategy for advancing good public policy.


MZ: “Principled pragmatism” does not preclude public policy predicated on a precautionary principle. It does mean that business, as well as all segments of the national community, are accountable for their actions and the long-term ramifications they may have. Ask California utility users what they were dealing with, while the brokers at Enron cracked jokes over the phone.

*********
Top Next

[Re: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK0510/S00101.htm - Ultimate fashion experience up for grabs: Aucklanders are being offered the chance to win the ultimate Auckland City Fashion Experience… To be eligible for the competition simply buy something from any participating fashion retailer in Newmarket, Ponsonby, Heart of the City, Parnell or K' Rd between 9am Monday 17 October and 5pm Monday 24 October.]

Just the sort of excuse I need!!

*********
Top

Am I the only one,who is having a problem with this new Bond or what? Let's tell the truth. Piecre Brosnan is the only one who has truely done the role proud since Sean Connery. If you people think Dan Craig is young,handsome and good looking then,I'm Liz Hurley! Maybe it slipped your memories, but it took several years more, than it should have, to get Pierce in the role to begin with! They originally wanted him for the role back in the 80's but, he was still under contract to the ABC TV show "Remington Steele" and the role went to Timothy Dalton. While Dalton is a fine actor, he seemed to myself, as well as many others,to fall short of the bar set by Connery. Finally after several years, and an equal number of mediocre Bond films later, the "True Heir To The Throne" assumed his 00 duties and the world was safe again. I saw the last film,"Tommorrow Never Dies", Pierce looked Great! Much younger than his years! Daniel Craig does not! We all should DEMAND Pierce's Immediate Return to the role! Whatever he wants give it to him Barbara, for crissakes! He earned it! Mock my words, replacing Pierce is going to cost you dearly, more so than if you had appeased his wishes. Whatever He wanted, to continue in the role, certainly couldn't have been beyond reason, considering how much more he draws at the box office over Dalton's version. I personally will boycott the new film "Casino Royale" and urge other true Bond Fans to do likewise and further let EON Productions know by Post of their disapproval! This will be just a cheap, sad immitation of a great character in motion picture lore! Barbara, Micheal boy did you guys screw up on this one!

BRING PIERCE BACK NOW!

A FORMER Lifelong Fan

*********

Send feedback to Scoop: http://www.scoop.co.nz/about/feedback.html or editor@scoop.co.nz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news