Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

Editorial: Now May We Have a Real Revolution?

International investors have passed a resounding vote of no confidence in the New Zealand economy. In hindsight, the question should not be: why?, but rather: what took them so long?! It has been obvious enough for long enough that the country's culture is still not investment-friendly and its currency not a good bet. Some of us have been saying for a long time, though no one has cared to listen, that the much vaunted "free market revolution" whose end is now being gleefully proclaimed by the state-worshippers in our midst, is in reality nothing of the sort. It would seem that investors have now realised that.

Why not a real revolution? Because a genuine free market revolution must be incidental to a philosophical revolution based on the values of reason & freedom. No such revolution has occurred here. Two men as much as any others drove the changes that were implemented — Roger Douglas and, behind the scenes, Alan Gibbs. Douglas never wanted a free market revolution, just a Corporate Welfare State which herded its citizens by force into the private sector. Gibbs was only ever interested in one aspect of a free market revolution — less tax — and was contemptuous of my own "obsession" with freedom. He would throw avowedly anti-reason philosophies in my face. He was unmoved by the overall erosion of freedom that was going on — perhaps because some of his own acolytes were instrumental in and benefiting from such sources of that erosion as the Resource Management Act.

A true free market revolution could never germinate in such toxic soil. And it didn't.

A free market revolution would have identified taxation as theft, and initiated relentless downward pressure on the level of it; it would not have introduced a vicious new tax and raised the overall tax take as a percentage of gdp by 6% from its level under that arch-statist, Muldoon! A free market revolution would have recognised that prices should be determined by supply & demand, not by Dr Brash, and that they shouldn't be forcibly inflated by twelve and a half per cent to maintain Nanny State's bloated girth. A free market revolution would never have countenanced the introduction of such silly vexations as the Fringe Benefit Tax & the Entertainment Tax. A free market revolution would have long since abolished such unconscionable product-specific taxes as those on alcohol & tobacco & petrol. A free market revolution would have freed up the labour market right at the outset, and done it properly — not in such a way that leaves job-creators vulnerable to ridiculous litigation on the basis of "hurt feelings" & other such Politically Correct absurdities. A free market revolution would not have placed all private property under the control of local body politicians & bureaucrats, as the Resource Management Act did, nor would its personnel be instrumental in writing such an Act & conspicuously profiting from it. A free market revolution would not have rendered property owners automatically liable for the accidents of visitors — even trespassers — on their property, as the health & safety legislation did. A free market revolution would have ended the ACC nonsense of our being liable for each other's accidents — even those of burglars — at all. A free market revolution would not culminate, fourteen years after its inception, in a cabinet minister (John Luxton) being able to say, "Rather than reduce the government tax burden, we are close to a one hundred year high. Rather than simplify or reduce government interventions, in the last ten years we have introduced sixteen hundred pieces of new legislation & three thousand six hundred pieces of regulation."

Recognising that — Alan Gibbs notwithstanding — freedom is indivisible, a free market revolution would not have countenanced the violations of freedom of speech & freedom of association mandated under that Orwellian monstrosity, the Human Rights Act, which provides for the imprisonment of those who say things construable as racist and the outlawing of golf tournaments for married couples. A free market revolution would have cleared the jails of those convicted of victimless "crimes" and removed such "crimes" from the statute books. A free market revolution would affirm the vital importance of the protection of each person's life, limb & property from real criminals, and would not be gutting our police force at the behest of Treasury bean-counters. A free market revolution would not have perpetuated Nanny's inhuman die-while-you-wait health system, doubling the number of bureaucrats — and the size of the waiting lists. And above all, a free market revolution would have liberated our children from the clutches of the Politically Correct state education system, from which they emerge illiterate, innumerate, & brainwashed in the ways of anti-intellectual, anti-achievement tribalism. It would have neutered those child molesters of the mind who have nurtured a cult of egalitarian mediocrity in our schools — a cult that has made newspaper reports such as this possible:

Former Wimbledon tennis finalist Chris Lewis believes peer pressure is resulting in a number of young athletes failing to perform. "One of the many ways in which aspiring tennis players unwittingly fall into this trap is by taking great pains to avoid being called a try-hard," said Lewis. ... And this negative culture has also been observed first hand by Northland swim coach, Monica Cooper. "It's almost unbelievable but I've got kids who are now scared to succeed. As one of them explained to me, it's not cool to win or stand out, it's cool to be one of the ordinary gang." Cooper said that at least one leading secondary school swimmer shied away from this year's Northland Secondary School champs because she couldn't face doing well again. ... Some teenagers spoken to by the Sunday Star-Times confirmed they were put under pressure to not achieve, both in the classroom and in sport. (Sunday Star-Times, May 17.)

Such state-sponsored evil does not bespeak a revolution grounded in reason, freedom, individualism & the pursuit of excellence!

So what have we had? A futile, flawed — and corrupt — endeavour to create an enterprise culture in the absence of an enterprise ethic. An improper liaison of certain politicians with certain businessmen for their mutual advantage. The rise of a political party financed by these businessmen & fronted by cynical, manipulative Machiavellians who couldn't lie straight in their beds. The burgeoning of the power of the state, grinding down most of the productive sector while allowing a few crony capitalists to prosper. The discrediting of the real free market because all of this has occurred in its name.

It may well be that this "free market experiment" is at an end. If so, let us welcome its demise — and get on with a real one!

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