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ACT Free Press Bulletin - 23/10/2017

ACT Free Press Bulletin - 23/10/2017

Capitalism Failed?

The new Prime Minister says capitalism has failed because there are too many children in poverty. She’s not just a little bit wrong, she is stating the opposite of the truth. There are children in poverty because the poor can’t get the things that are most heavily monopolised and regulated by Government: decent housing and education.

Where’s the Evidence?

Globally, she is dead wrong. The last 30 years of free trade, limited Government and the collapse of communism have seen hundreds of millions work their way out of real poverty. There’s never been so much relief of poverty in history, since this so-called neo-liberal era.

Where’s the Evidence?

Since 1982 the Government has measured household incomes and expenditures with the Household Labour Force Survey. Incomes have risen roughly equally since. What’s changed is expenditure. The poorest 20 per cent of households spent 27 per cent of their income on housing costs when the RMA was passed in 1991. Today they spend 54 per cent on housing. We have an inequality problem because endless red tape and regulation has made it almost impossible to build homes, let alone affordably.

Where’s the Evidence?

Fourteen per cent of decile one students get University Entrance, compared with 73 per cent of decile ten students. More decile one students leave school with no qualifications at all than with University Entrance. These numbers have barely moved in a decade under a state monopoly on education. (After three school years completed, the tiny handful of students at ACT’s Partnership Schools are the glimmer of hope).

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Where’s the Evidence?

Ardern says ‘the market has failed,’ but how can the ‘market’ be responsible for 12,000, or one-in-five New Zealand children being born into a benefit-led household? The incoming Government will reverse a decade of effort to reduce welfare dependency and replace it with a more open-ended version than we have now. Who thinks this will reduce child poverty? Who thinks it will increase child neglect?

Misguided in the Extreme

Armed with little more than her experiences leading the International Union of Socialist Youth, Ardern is putting ideology before the evidence staring her in the face. All around the world capitalism works to lift people out of poverty, but in New Zealand the state keeps people poor. This Government will fail by its own measures because of blind ideology.

The Socialist Ratchet

When the new government starts ratcheting up spending and intervention, they will be starting exactly where Labour left off in 2008. Being a conservative party, National has only ever preserved the policies of outgoing Labour Governments, and this last administration was no different. Working for Families, Interest Free Loans, The Employment Relations Act, and Jim Anderton’s Ministry for Economic Development (rebadged and expanded as MBIE) are all still there and ready to resume their expansion.

One Telling Reversal

One policy that will be difficult to reverse is ACT’s Partnership Schools. If the new Government is stupid enough to mess with these successful schools, they are going to have to go and tell kids who’ve been given their best chance in a life time that they’re going to shut down or mollify their ticket to higher education. They’re going to have to tell talented educators who set up the schools at great personal cost that their efforts are not appreciated. Shame.

Four Factions

The new government actually has four factions, and Partnership Schools will bring out the fault lines amongst them. Presumptive Labour Education Minister Chris Hipkins was selected for the Rimutaka Electorate in a hall packed with Teacher Union reps. He is already getting public (and no doubt private) calls from the unions to shut down this annoying competition. Labour’s Maori caucus know that the state monopoly on education has not been good for generations of Maori kids, so much so that several of them are personally connected with Partnership Schools. Wiser heads in New Zealand First have visited the schools and attended their prize giving ceremonies and privately support the initiative. The Greens are theoretically in favour of devolving control to communities. Because ACT actually carried the ball forward in the latest government, our policy legacy is a real challenge for the incoming Government.

Massive Shift Left

Already the pundits are saying National must move to the left and embrace New Zealand First or even the Greens to form a government in 2020. They will campaign from the Right against Jacinda Ardern’s socialism then embrace it as John Key embraced the policies of Helen Clark. There has got to be a better way.

Circuit Breaker

If this country is going to get a Government as committed to sensible economics, personal responsibility, and individual freedom as even the outgoing one, we must grow ACT over this term. The blue-green, blue-black, or even continued red alternatives don’t bear thinking about.

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