Saturday, 5 November 2016

Tall Poppy Syndrome Has Its Uses

Some Benefits of Being a Small Nation

New Zealand is a fortunate country--relatively speaking.  It is fortunate through no merit of its own. Rather, it benefits from being a small isolated country (geographically) and by being underpopulated.  We are aware that these two features are often at the top of a list of our nation's alleged disadvantages.  However, we beg to differ.

In effect what these two features provide is a control by citizens over central government that is unlike most other countries in the world.  New Zealand resembles a village, when compared to other countries.  Our current, long-serving Prime Minister, John Key is accessible, as are all members of Parliament.  If regulations and laws upset the electorate, politicians tend to hear about it pretty quickly.

Contrast this with much larger countries.
 In the UK, for example, the Brexit vote surprised the "ruling classes" and the Commentariat.  Those in power have progressively become divorced from ordinary people.  They have been out of touch.  PM Theresa May is trying to re-establish contacts and communication with "ordinary people" once again.  In the United States there is clearly a significant slice of the nation that sees itself as disenfranchised.  Washington is "out of touch", a "swamp" a coven of corruptocrats.  Big Government and Big Business have ended up conspiring against ordinary citizens.  Or so the complaints run.

Angelo Codevilla explains how this comes about in larger countries.
To what extent shall our governments regulate?  The necessary premise of the tens of thousands of pages of regulations that flow from modern government each year is that government knows more about the right way to build widgets than do widget makers or that although widget makers might be knowledgeable, only the hand of government prevents them from using their expertise to exploit the public.  But of course since government draws its expertise by involving business in the regulatory process, government inevitably rules all widget makers through its favorite widget makers.

Moreover, it makes a big difference, for example, if people being regulated can be certain about what satisfies and does not satisfy regulations and be sure of the extent to which they must depend on discretionary rulings.  The formal and information ways in which the regulated influence the regulations also make a big difference.  So officials live in fear of overstepping their bounds, or do they swagger?  Angelo Codevilla, The Character of Nations, How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 71]
UK citizens, confronted with a ceaseless flow of rules, regulations, controls, and judicial fiats from Brussels and other centres of power in the EU, understood that they had lost control of their country.  They took the only option left--rare as it was--to vote to roll back the mega-state of Eurocracy.  But until the Brexit referendum they were powerless.

Smaller nations are not immune from creeping statism.  But when government goes beyond what is considered reasonable by the public they hear about it in no uncertain terms.  Government and its bureaucracy can be reined in smartly.  This does not mean that small countries like New Zealand avoid unjust laws or statist overreach.  Democracies, in the end, always reflect the heart of the citizenry.  And New Zealand is a very pagan nation.  This paganism is increasingly reflected in many of our laws and institutions.  But if a government steps outside the "common sense" of citizens it is reined in pretty fast.  This is one of the great benefits of being in a small country.

Very few of our officials or politicians swagger.  Those that do tend to get weeded out quick smart.  We call it the "tall poppy syndrome".  

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