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The art of twisted thinking


Politics isn't exactly Euclidean geometry.

The internal angles of the triangle don't have to sum to 180 degrees.

Indeed, it's a political plus to be able to propound two mutually incompatible propositions at once. Policies don't need to add up or possess internal consistency. In fact, it's best they don't.

People don't vote for reason or logic.

Their attraction to politics is that it makes two plus two equal five. Voters want magic with democratic success and government power. That allows them the hope that government fairy dust can relieve their daily grind.

It's no fun to be a politician trying to explain there's no government magic. We don't as children trust or like the kid who tells us there's no Father Christmas. Voters feel the same about a politician telling them they can't have what they want.

It's far easier and more fun to play along and ham it up. Sure, politicians run the risk of looking stupid to the few who can see there's no government fairy dust. But they're the very few. And politicians aren't stupid; they're just doing what politicians do.

What politicians do is pander to voters with their hands out. So, too, do the media. It makes for easy news.

The same whingers screaming for handouts vociferously oppose privatisation. That, too, makes for easy news. The contradiction is that, for the government to spend more, it must borrow more. That means loading up more debt.

The whingers oppose equity investment but promote extra debt. The inconsistency is glaring but completely ignored. It doesn't add up. But then it doesn't have to. Political reporting is just "he said, she said" and a comment on the politics. There's no reality checker in political reporting.

The reality is the government is borrowing $10 billion a year. That's a whopping sum. GST would have to be bumped from 15% to 25% just to balance the budget. No political party would survive that hike.

We are already taxed to the political max and hitting hard Kiwis not yet born. The advantage of increasing debt is that it has no immediate political consequence: the future doesn't vote.

For all its huff and puff, National's proposed selldown of assets is trivial. It won't even cover this year's excessive spending. Still, Labour opposes it.

But Labour wants to legislate extra spending to extend paid parental leave. The proposition is for government to borrow even more to pay mothers not to work. It's absurd.

It makes no sense to borrow to pay people not to produce. And the politicians promising to run up more debt are the very ones opposing increased equity investment. It doesn't add up.

But it's politics. It doesn't have to.

There's also the deeper moral inconsistency. We are each here today because our ancestors continuously over millions of years were smart enough and tough enough to survive and to prosper and to provide for their young. Most didn't.

It's a good test that would-be parents should first have the wherewithal, the brains, the strength and the commitment to take responsibility for their own children before having them. That's the test that applied for millennia.

Welfarism has removed that parental test. The consequence is daily evident in our streets and on our news.

It used to be tough for women: they had to find a mate who had the ability to provide for them and their children. That in turn made it tough for men.

It's all easier now: we just vote for everyone else to pay for our kids.

It's just a shame the government fairy dust doesn't look after this generation's children the way our nanas and grandads looked after theirs.

That's the triangle that politics sadly can't stack up.

Comments and questions

So true. Its a pity political journalists don't ask politicians where the money will come from when they dream up new ways of conning the masses to vote for them.

My experience is that journalists more than most have a voodoo belief in government (but cynical view of politicians) and no grasp of taxpayers or where the money comes from.

Damn I hate it when someone tells it like it is. NZ news of every type is littered with glaring bias. Is there no real reporter able to get a story to air with just hard questions and facts alone because all I see is spin.

Ta. It's fun. And the journalist bias is so complete they don't see it: they all work in the same socialist framework.

Now here is a great angle for a reporter to investigate - how the media has significantly weakened our political system. I agree we now have a society where many of the populace are lead like sheep by the media who themselves are only interested in creating headlines or pushing their own agenda. We need to start demanding more balanced journalism based upon reason and knowledge - why does that sound so crazy?

Yes. I agree. The poor quality of journalism is having a devastating impact on the quality of our politics and government decision making.

This is why I believe we should have binding citizens initiated referenda. It ends the charade of voter irresponsibility and forces accountability for the outcomes of decisions.

Agreed. If real increases in government spending were subject to citizen veto I reckon we would not have any need for income tax.

Ironically this issue could be addressed by "the market". I agree journalism in NZ is extremely biased ( in either direction , but mainly to the left). So if a newspaper had a couple of journalists that asked the hard questions and reported just the facts then I'd suggest the paper's circulation would increase significantly.

Agreed. I'm trying to do my bit....

If only that idiot hadn't muscled into your seat - we need more like you in the house. Hopefully next time.

That's politics for you !

Well said, Rodney.
Looking forward to your return to the fray in due course.
Willie Getonwithit

Kind but no. Time for something else. Plus I don't think those pollies returning to the fray make a very good go at it ...

Everything moves on.

I agree. The most important thing to do is to change public opinion and education. The politicians will follow.

Those inside the system can never make changes until the "rabble" outside are beating on the gates.

Aside from binding referenda the most important change I want to see is proper economic education for all young New Zealanders so they start to understand that the Government doesn't grow money on trees behind Parliament.

And the teachers?

Who is going to change education to include unbiased economics, or public understanding? Not politicians; not teachers; not universities; and I do not see anyone else in the game. Somehow we need to convince business to take part. But so much of big business is tied up with government, that road may not be easy. So perhaps it must be up to small to medium business which has the most to gain. Who is there to start that journey?

Treasury needs to step up pressure on the education bureaucracy. It is in National's interest to improve economic literacy so their politicians should support it. Likewise business. Both should put pressure on the socialist university economic cadres to lift their game by importing education and/or talent from more enlightened spheres.

Charter schools offer opportunity to set higher standards beyond control of the socialist unions. ERO and NZQA must then promote these.

Going from strength to strength, Rod. This article is the best, yet.

Too kind. I'm enjoying it.

Keep at it Rodney; we need more perceptive commentators, and commentary on the basic issues, particularly from people who, like you, have experienced politics first-hand, preferably from the inside. People who can strip aside the spin and gloss, and get to the real nub of the various issues as they arise.

Thank you. Will do.

So if you support other political phlosophies, you are motivated by fairy dust?. But not if you support RH's political philodophy?

If you believe that, then you must be motivated by bull dust!

Not necessarily. But the dominant political philosophy in NZ is that government can deliver something for nothing. If you believe that, then, yes, you believe in government fairy dust.

My political philosophy is classical liberalism / anarcho-capitalism.

What's yours?

Just classical. No neo-nix.

Don't know that one.

Seems John Key believes the Governnent can deliver a new convention centre at no cost to our society - with the unquestioning support of his right minded supporters

I think Hide's next 'think piece' should be on the topic:

Why CERA would form a better government than any democratically elected one.

Or why no govt would be better!

I guess now that RH is a full member of 'no govt' this is an absolutely logical position for RH.

Ps. My compliments to RH for the responses!

I feel less of a hypocrite that's for sure !!

Agreed. Hope that Len Brown keeps the mayor's chair warm for you. :-)

Better to have made the chair than sit in it.


Fairy dust!

I love the image. John Key once said money is not made by pixies at the end of the garden.

Clearly he found pixies.

More likw what it takes to stay in power.

Rodney, Rodney,

I don't believe the general public are oblivious to logic and basic maths.

Yes, debt needs to be paid down and we need to get to surplus first but to bemoan in such a public way that people don't understand that logic is strange to me given the fact that as a public figure, you rely on our confidence in you. I guess now you're out you can wipe of the grease and tell us how you really feel? Friendly joke, Rodney settle down.

And how the hell you could have a discussion on welfare by bringing up the mating habits of our ancestors is straight hilarious. Oh, it was a good Sunday laugh, on a side note - please tell me you threw that hideous big bird jacket of yours in the rubbish bin?

I don't believe the general public are oblivious to logic and basic maths.

Most journalists are too. You obviously don't understand why most Governments are in serious debt and why, for just one example, they are still waging an entirely counter-productive and enormously costly "War on Drugs".

So my guess is you are one of them.

Yes Alan, the war on drugs has been expensive, that does not mean i don't understand the concept of fiscal responsibility or lack thereof.

You assumed i had no idea, Rodney assumes that people can't count. The left have their solutions, the right have theirs, but to call out someone's intelligence because their solutions are different is how i would define, "twisted thinking".

Of course the left will increase spending because they see it as an investment and no Alan, that is not a view i share just in case you were to assume.

The missing piece of this argument of fiscal irresponsibility from the left is the fact that they will do something the right wont.... increase revenue. These political arguments are twisted to the point were it is actually illogical to engage in them, that's why i did not espouse any of my political leanings - just casual observation of context and bad fashion choices.

No, you didn't understand my comment. You believe the electorate applies logic and basic maths. Yet you know that the electorate votes for policies that force Governments to live beyond their means, and to wage a losing, futile, very harmful "War on Drugs".

Therefore you fail to apply logic and basic maths yourself since you do not see the facts refute your belief.

Re the separate issue you raise, the problem with the Left is not so much that they uniquely fail to live within their means (though many have spectacularly) but that they destroy economic freedom and thereby productivity, efficiency and innovation. They also tend to find that in order to suppress economic freedom they must also suppress social freedom.

could not agree more what thiswar on drugs has created is of such cost that we well be paying for it for generations of crime ridden societys watch for colins civil detention laws .

I think the public and politicians are oblivious to logic and math. How else to explain the opposition to privatisation and simultaneous call for more spending?

I still got the jacket.

And I think human pre history is very illuminating of our own behaviour and predictament.

The art of twisted thinking is thinking you are for smaller more democratic govt. while claiming Auckland Super city is good for Franklin District.

Hypocrite. At least you could have recommended a local referendum. I used to have utmost respect for you Rodney but now you have become just another qualified nobody politician. Must be easy to spout off nice sounding rhetoric now the weight of accountability has been lifted from you shoulders?

He isn't saying anything in this article that he hasn't been saying for years.

He has always been consistent in his opinions and long ago fell foul of the PC orthodoxy promoted by the NZ media. A minor error of judgment in taking his girlfriend on an overseas trip was pounced on by these same people and turned into a media beat up.

Artciles like this should be run in the NZ Herald where they might stir up some sort of debate - but of course that pathetic rag is militantly anti-ACT and anti-Hide.

However well written and well argued the piece he is pretty much preaching to the converted in the NBR.

Thanks Ben. I still hope people enjoy the read even if they are already onboard with the ideas.

I agree, I cannot see how the Super City is compatible with the principles of classic liberalism.

Furthermore it was always going to hand control to the Left since voters from the outer cities were bound to combine against an Auckland City takeover. So it was a tactical mistake as well.

And it was never going to save money but simply cost money creating a less accountable monopoly.

Both those lessons were readily available from the results and consequences of the 1987 amalgamations.

Well almagamation is not obviously against principles of classical liberalism. The idea is that jurisdiction should match the issues to be addressed. In Auckland's case the issues reached across the region and could not be addressed by the individual 8 councils.

Savings so far are considerable. 1800 fewer managers for a start.

Of course, the council now decides its own budget.

I don't see sadly a big difference in the left and right nature of local body politics before and after but there's been a dramatic improvement in governance. The CCOs are making a big difference too.

I'm unconvinced the issues are as city-wide as claimed. Those that are tend to be controlled by central government anyway.

I'll bet rates and debt continue to outpace inflation and voter participation continues to fall. The white elephants will be bigger and have more splendid gold-encrusted howdas.

Transport, sewage, water.

I won't take the bet!

Providing a better governance structure won't change voter or political behaviour.

If I knew how to do that I would still be in Parliament ! ;)

Sewage and water are best serviced by private enterprise, not bureaucrats. So is most of transport - and everything difficult or complex.

Transport corridors have to be legislated for so are a central government issue, as inevitably is much of the funding.


But I was the only one in Cabinet that day that believes that.

In fact, I suggested government clear out of Christchurch, declare it tax and regulation free, and simply stand back.

Within 5 years or less it would leave the rest of NZ behind.

I don't disagree with your analysis. I was always trying to do the best with collective decision making in a socialist framework.

Bastard of a position really !!

I understand your position. The main problem is that liberals don't want to control other people's lives, only their own.

So Parliament is full of the other kind of politicians who live for exactly what liberals loathe.

Correct. And true liberals for obvious reasons are not attracted to politics.

Socialists of all stripes are.

The trouble for liberals is we know it's hard just being responsible for your actions.

Socialists bypass that responsibilty and get busy simply bossing others.

I think I am actually an unqualified nobody politician.

It's fantastic now to be able to talk freely.

And not have to care what others like your good self think.

It's extremely pleasant.