Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Suborning of Politicians

Please Explain

We have seen it all before. Politicians come to power with a hiss and a roar, fresh from the hustings. They start out sensitive to the electorate, conscious of commitments they have made. Gradually, and ineluctably, they become intractable, distant, withdrawn. Myopic, bunkerish, and stubborn.

Now, we are not with those who hold with "direct democracy", where Prime Ministers must be held captive to the whims of plebiscites and referenda. We elect representatives to govern and exercise careful judgement. It is reasonable that they take on board realities and information which was not to hand whilst on the hustings. But it is also reasonable to require politicians to explain themselves clearly and justify their positions carefully when their positions changes on a particular issue.

Most don't. They simply hunker down into the Beehive bunkers, adopting a know-it-all mien when questioned or challenged. The arrogance of power quickly takes over. The responsible judgement of political leaders is suborned by the titillating hubris of wielding power.

The Emissions Trading Scheme ("ETS") is a perfect example of the syndrome. This disastrous piece of chicanery (at least to our minds) is set to inflict its damage on July 1st of this year. It will make every New Zealander worse off, taking more of their hard earned cash (we exclude the entitled classes from this description) in Government imposed charges and levies. More worryingly, it will strike a damaging blow at the productive sector of our economy upon which our economic lifeblood depends.

Read carefully a devastating criticism of the ETS levelled by a leading politician:
The appetite of . . . this Government for more taxes is legendary, 43 new and increased levies and taxes have been introduced. The latest is the carbon tax. It will add 6c per litre to the price of petrol, 7c per litre to diesel, 6% to all power bills and put the price of coal and gas up by 9%. . . . .

The madness of the Government’s new carbon tax is that New Zealanders will be the only people in the world paying it. It will drive up the costs of living and undermine the competitiveness of New Zealand business for negligible environmental gain.

. . . Ministers may take pride in being toasted at International Climate conferences for being so bold and brave, but there is no justification for New Zealand going out in the cold by itself on this issue.

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions made up only 0.4% of the global total and on a per capita basis our emissions are half those of countries like Australia and the United States. We are the only Southern Hemisphere country with binding legal obligations under Kyoto and giants like China and India have got off scot free.

The carbon tax will cost the Nelson and Marlborough regions $25 million a year. We are particularly hard hit because industries like fishing, farming and forestry are big fuel consumers. The tax is particularly insulting to the forestry sector and those farmers who have woodlots because the Government has taken the carbon credits for themselves. . . .

A further concern of the carbon tax is its impact on inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate. It will add to the costs of fuel and power and these flow right through the economy to basics like food. This puts pressure on inflation, which in turn drives up interest rates and the kiwi dollar. The Government’s carbon tax is a classic example of the way the Government is making things tougher for the productive exporting sector.

Which politician has the insight and conviction to speak out like this? Nick Smith . . . in 2005. (HatTip, Gooner at No Minister) But now that he is in power, Smith has become a chief cheerleader for the same stupid self-flagellating madness. It appears as though he thinks it is somehow different when he is the protagonist as if folly is transformed to wisdom by virtue of his righteousness.

Now, no doubt Nick and his Prime Minister, John Key would retort that it is not Labour's ETS scheme that is going to come into effect, but National's. After all they amended it and made it "better". Wrong. The fundamental asinine idiocy remains, as exposed by the Employers and Manufacturers Association.
Business support for the Emissions Trading Scheme has slumped ahead of its July 1 introduction, and many are in the dark over their eligibility for carbon credits, a new survey shows.

The online survey, conducted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), found 86 percent of businesses did not support implantation of the scheme before comparable schemes were adopted by New Zealand's trading partners. It also found 90 percent of businesses did not know if they were eligible for carbon credits - a key provision in the scheme.

Of the 612 businesses surveyed, 44 percent said the scheme would have a serious or extremely serious impact on them, while 48 percent said the scheme would be an issue to manage, though not serious.

Half the respondents said they wanted New Zealand to adopt climate change measures at the same pace as trading partners, while 38 percent supported late adoption and 11 percent early adoption. Hat Tip: Fairfacts Media
Once again the hubris of our leaders is recklessly driving them to want to be a "world leader" at the expense of us and all our children.
The results showed businesses did not support New Zealand leading the world with climate change measures, Mr Thompson said. "No other country is adopting an 'all sectors, all gases' approach to reducing climate gas emissions. The only other scheme - in the EU - will cover just four per cent of output. Ours will cover 100 per cent of output." (Emphasis, ours.)
Now, maybe we have got this all wrong. Maybe there are compelling reasons for pursuing this self-damaging course. But to this point all that we have got from Key and Smith is evasive misdirections, like "our ETS is better than Labour's", or "it's less anti-business than it was". Rubbish. The issue to be explained is why New Zealand is pursuing a course that is more extreme, all encompassing, and governmentally intrusive than any other country in the world. It does not make much difference whether we take a cup of cyanide or a small capsule. The damage either way is terminal.

John Key committed himself during the election to making New Zealand more productive. He would strip away government regulations and red tape. He would free the economy up by "micro-reforms". None of this will be worth diddlely squat as the economy takes on another crushing government imposition. Unless he explains himself clearly, we are left with the only alternative of him being suborned by power.

Once again Lord Acton's dictum will be vindicated. Power will have corrupted those who subsequently exposed to be venal all along. Prime Minister--please explain!

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