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Maxim Institute real issues. this week: No. 108

Maxim Institute real issues. this week: No. 108, 29 APRIL 2004

Contents: * New Zealand passports prized possessions

* Unsustainable tertiary education policy

* Human rights gone wrong

* Be a 'Principal for a Day'

New Zealand passports prized possessions

New Zealand passports are in demand. It has been reported today that 11 fake New Zealand passports have been found by Thai police following the arrest of two men with possible al Qaeda links. Earlier this month two Israeli men were charged with fraudulently trying to obtain New Zealand passports.

One of the most important things about a passport is that it is a constant reminder of the importance of the nation state and the privileges of living in one. As citizens of a nation state, New Zealanders are bound by reciprocal obligations to all those who claim our nationality, regardless of family, and regardless of faith. Our law applies to a definite territory, and our legislators are chosen by those whose home it is. The law provides our common protection and privileges and attracts our common obedience to Law.

This is why a New Zealand passport is such a prize. We are a democratic stable nation which takes the rule of law seriously. Added to that New Zealand passports' are valuable for our low profile and visa-free status. Consequently, if others value our national sovereignty so highly, so should we.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=108.1

Unsustainable tertiary education policy

Student debt in New Zealand has now rolled over to $7 billion and is set to keep rising through increasing enrolment and tuition fees. The government cannot afford to continue subsidising the increasing numbers of students going to university. The hard reality is that many students now face the prospect of spending years in low-earning jobs trying to pay back their loans.

"Degree inflation" is a concept young people in Britain are all too familiar with. The UK government aims to encourage all its youth into higher education, changing the face of entry requirements for jobs. A degree should not be necessary for call centre work but is now mandatory across London. Is this really the way we want things to head in New Zealand?

The recent report on Tertiary Education Strategy (7 April) claimed that the "tertiary education sector is in a good position to address the challenges of providing the right kinds of education, skills and knowledge to support a growing knowledge economy and society. For example, we have more people than ever before participating in tertiary education..." However, quantity is not an indication of quality. A policy that encourages all, regardless of ability, to continue to tertiary education is unsustainable and adds to the accumulated debt.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=108.2

Human Rights gone wrong

New Zealand is reaping the consequences of the dramatically expanding notions of human rights that has taken place in recent years. This is the context that has enabled proponents of civil unions or same-sex marriage to claim rights identical to marriage. Previously, such a claim would not have been possible because rights were primarily about providing basic protections and freedoms and marriage was recognised for it benefits with special privileges.

The expansion of rights is the result of a view of life which sees everything in terms of oppression - of minorities by majorities. The only protection from such oppression is to legislate more human rights. The old concept of negative liberty - that no-one (including the state) is allowed to use coercion against others - is exchanged for positive liberty. This new concept is now being used by the state to affirm and promote the status of different groups.

The irony is profound. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 was a move against totalitarianism - to protect the citizen from the over-reaching power of the state.

But when human rights are extended beyond the few general and negative rights - freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc - the result is not more freedom. Individuals no longer stand as free citizens under the protection of the state, but as members of groups with rights invented and given to them by the state. There is a transfer of power away from citizens as the state grabs increasing authority to decide which group needs protection. The idea of the common good takes a back seat and the democratic process is threatened by competing group rights.

To read an article on the issue by UK commentator Theodore Dalrymple visit: www.spectator.co.uk/article.php?id=4531 [Free registration required]

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=108.3

Be a 'Principal for a Day'

A successful programme developed in New York to bridge the gap between schools and business called 'Principal for a Day' will run for the third time on 25th August. The event is a chance for business and community leaders to spend a day shadowing a principle allowing them to discuss education issues and build relationship. For more information and to register visit: www.pfad.org.nz

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=108.4

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Thomas B. Reed (1886)

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.

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