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Marc My Words - 4 February 2005

Marc My Words - 4 February 2005


It's in the numbers, but what do they mean?

Another year and sets of fresh statistics are in the making. As a society that is often introspective, we seem very keen on the numbers for everything, whether it's the inflation rate, crime rate or sport scores. They may tell us the breadth of an experience but rarely of the experience itself. This year being election year, we will no doubt be confronted by a staggering and bewildering array of data to 'prove' one set of truths against another as each political party attempts to score the punches that will reward them at the polling booth.

So far we're off to an interesting start.

National has come out of the blocks with their sneakers tied together. Sadly for a party that is meant to look like an Opposition, act like an Opposition and sound like one, its performance is underwhelming. If National were a noise it would resemble a pair of faint echoes from two bullets being fired into its own feet by its own hand.

The Act Party couldn't take out a life insurance policy no matter how high the premiums. All their supporters will no doubt be looking for a venue for their wake after the next election. My suggestion: the public phone box at Windwhistle near the Who Cares Township.

The Winston Peters Party (because, let's face it, the others are so obscure they'd be discarded from a political trivial pursuit game as being a specialist subject in itself), is an absolutely unknown quantity. Their policies will be trimmed and tacked in their quest to get the wind of votes in their sails. And when the occasion warrants they'll double cross the bridge of responsibility when they reach it.

The Greens will no doubt march forward under the banner of sanctimonious argument to raise equality by discriminating against the industrious, proposing to spend other people's money while denying them the joy of living. They will continue treating criminal offenders as misunderstood victims and real victims as an unforgiving lynch mob. They will carp on about the importance of the environment for the safekeeping of posterity and the flatbilled toke beetle while taking away our rights to enjoy our countryside. They will seek to replace our purpose for life with a gormless and soul-destroying ideology based on the idea that we humans are forever at fault.that the world would be better off if we were elsewhere.planet cannabis perhaps.

Meanwhile Labour is taking on the aura of smugness that accompanies the self-assurance of being the crowd favourite. It is past the stage of being the nervous parent, now confident in its role to the point of being more than a tad domineering. The dialogue with the people has been slowly but surely replaced by a soliloquy. But as all adolescents eventually do, the public is starting to demand its own space.its own freedom.

What Labour considers to be nurturing.the public (or at least good portions of it) find stifling. To give only one example: the smokers who are upset about being evicted from one local watering hole (as a result of the Smokefree legislation) now - with the bar owner's help - sit in an adjacent bus testing Nanny Government's patience. Like school kids determinedly going against the rules these punters are pushing back. This case may be facile but some others are not.

No one in their right mind would argue that being on welfare should be encouraged as a lifestyle. On the other hand many people at some time in their lives need help for situations beyond their control. You simply cannot plan your life around factory closings, the death of a spouse to crime or illness, or a myriad other things that push and pull us throughout life. The best we can do is be reasonably prepared for reasonable eventualities. After we've paid the insurance.live within our means.and take practical steps to be healthy and secure; that's it.

But we have overstepped the mark. In the last five years 44,793 beneficiaries have chosen to have additional children while living off the generosity of taxpayers who, given the choice, would have preferred to keep their own money to look after their own families. It is one thing to expect a compassionate and caring society to help those in need but not when that benevolence is abused.

The Public Health Advisory report made one conclusion that would be mean-spirited to disagree with: that 'children have a right to be protected from poverty.' What the report neglected to point out was that protection is a responsible parental act with the onus on parents to act responsibly, living within their means rather than inflicting additional burdens on taxpayers who have legitimate competing interests for their families. It is really an issue of balancing the freedom and liberty of an individual to pursue their own dreams and aspirations with the obligations of living in an ethical society.

It is true however, that sometimes liberty and social responsibility are strange companions. The former is of necessity constrained by laws that guarantee the same freedoms to others. In a sense the price of liberty is to give up a portion of it so as to enjoy the remainder. The problem of course is that you can't really have your cake and eat it; liberty parted is liberty lost.

As for United Future?

Having spent a couple of days with my colleagues putting the finishing touches to some of our key policy areas, I think that when they are announced the public will be surprised.in a very good way. We haven't allowed ideological prejudices to hinder us but have been guided by commonsense and pragmatism. No party can ever claim to hold the monopoly on good ideas but the willingness of United Future to work constructively with the government and the other parties is one of our major strengths. Unlike some we do not disqualify ourselves from being part of the solution. The election is one statistic that actually matters because it will directly influence the realities and possibilities of the rules within which we will live for the next three years.

United Future provides a balance between the will of the people and the will of government. It's a delicate balance that should be respected and never be taken for granted. We do, and we won't.


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