The Dim-Post

June 29, 2014

See, the thing about roads is . . .

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 12:44 pm

DPF has had a couple of posts up recently about environmentalists, one revealing that some Greenpeace staffer flies on a plane twice a month, the other that some Green Party candidate drives a car! The general gist is that if you argue that we should move away from a carbon based economy because of the environmental impacts you shouldn’t use any kind of carbon based transport system, which, unfortunately for environmentalists, means they’re supposed to work and campaign without travelling anywhere, because its pretty much all carbon based, which is exactly what they’re campaigning against.

Meanwhile, the National government has just announced their first policy for the election. An extra $212 million dollars on ROADS. This government loves ROADS. They announced a $12 billion dollar roading package about two years ago. I read somewhere – but can’t quite remember – that their total spend on ROADS is about $30 billion.

And here’s the thing. ROADS are SOCIALIST. They are!  The government takes your tax money, some central planner decides where to spend it, they build something that the state owns and anyone can use it for free. That is the textbook definition of socialism.

So I guess I’d like to hear from DPF as to why he isn’t just a huge disgusting hypocrite for using roads, when he claims to be a classical liberal who opposes socialism and champions the free market. And I guess he’ll say something like, ‘I pay my taxes so I’m entitled to use them.’ Or ‘I’m an advocate for toll roads and public private partnerships.’ But that’s not how it works with environmentalists. They pay their plane fares, and they’re ‘advocates’ too, and they’re dirty stinking hypocrites for flying on planes, somehow. How can DPF ever travel on ROADS? Shouldn’t he be named and shamed every time he sets foot on a footpath (perhaps a better term would be gulag-path)? Isn’t it time people who care about freedom stand up for it and stay at home, forever?

More seriously, it’d also be fun to hear from the Prime Minister and Joyce as to why the dead hand of the state needs to distort the market and build so many roads? Why doesn’t the private sector intervene? The answer, of course, is that just as the private sector outperforms the state in some areas, the state is a better solution for plenty of others, and ROADS is one of them. National MPs aren’t allowed to think that though which is funny, because they really, really, really love ROADS.

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31 Comments »

  1. And the reason for this?

    Trucks. The bridges being upgraded aren’t suitable for 50 tonne trucks. If it wasn’t for the trucks the bridges would not need upgrade in the near-term.

    A direct subsidy to the road freight industry, yet again. An industry heavily subsidised already through petrol taxes and road user charges that fall on the average car owner far more than it does on heavy vehicles, in terms of maintenance costs.

    Comment by lefty — June 29, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

  2. Hang on. I know that National are supposed to be RWNJ’s but have they advocated privatising the roads or been involved with massive PR campaigns telling people that they really should not travel by road? By the same token, are they only 49% hypocrites because they only sold 49% of the electrical SOE’s and still use the power from those companies?

    It really comes down to a question of hammering away on personal morality and ethics vs simple advocacy. In other words, if Greenpeace and virtually every other Green movement and party did not make such a big deal about how personally guilty one should be for flying planes and driving cars then they would not be getting it in the neck about these things. I’ve not seen much made of their “hypocrisy” in using power from coal, gas, or nuclear – probably because their opposition to those things is rooted in advocacy for change driven by public policy rather than trying to guilt individuals into doing what they want.

    In any case I’ll leave you with the following puzzle: the reason National support SOCIALIST ROADS is that National is ……..?

    Comment by Tom Hunter — June 29, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

  3. @Tom H: The trick is, National aren’t classical liberals. They’re the political arm of capital. So if building roads helps the road building companies and the trucking companies, that’s what they’ll do.

    Comment by pete — June 29, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

  4. It’s a very specific form of socialism – socialism for the rich & austerity for the rest.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — June 29, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  5. Being familiar with the huge volume of trucks heading to Picton I believe that the damage to the Main Highway 1 is very costly. The truck drivers no doubt wave to the drivers of under used freight trains. The constant repair and resealing of the highway must cost a great deal more than the fees paid by truck firms. So the taxpayer subsidises the truck firms by huge amounts. Market Forces? User Pays?

    Comment by xianmac — June 29, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

  6. And by the same token, should libertarian anarcho-capitalists be denied access to hospital emergency wards, fire services and police? Or would that only alienate them further?

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — June 29, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

  7. they’re supposed to work and campaign without travelling anywhere

    Jehovah’s Witness never seem to have that problem…maybe they’re all just a bunch of greenies.

    Comment by Ross — June 29, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

  8. “So if building roads helps the road building companies and the trucking companies, that’s what they’ll do.”

    And safety of course.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11283273

    The report estimates improved roads are responsible for a 19% drop in the road toll.

    “Both Noon and Zollner think the Infometrics study may underestimate the effect of road improvements. Zollner says road building stalled badly in the 1990s but recovered about 10 years ago, thanks to more money and a road assessment programme called KiwiRAP, which rates the country’s roads to decide where safety work is needed.

    Under KiwiRAP, roads have a star rating from one (worst) to five (best). They are assessed both on personal risk to one driver at any time and collective risk, which measures the total crash rate. Road safety improvements have concentrated on high collective risk zones, such as SH1 between Auckland and Hamilton. For instance, turning the winding one-lane section from Meremere to Rangiriri into a straight two-lane expressway with median barriers has almost eliminated serious crashes.

    From 2000 to 2006, there were 22 serious crashes, nine of them fatal. In 2007-2011, there were three crashes, including one fatal.

    Overall the number of serious and fatal crashes on the high collective risk sections of state highways dropped by 30 per cent from 2000-2006 to 2007-2011, suggesting that the improvements were working. As a result, the number of sections assessed as high-risk fell from 30 from just 11.”

    Comment by JC — June 29, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  9. @JC: And which of the proposed projects (mostly bridges) are ranked low on KiwiRAP, such that the changes need to be brought forward for safety reasons?

    Comment by lefty — June 29, 2014 @ 4:36 pm

  10. @9,

    I wouldn’t know. To me its more interesting to note that both parties have been playing catchup starting a decade ago after a poor road building and improvement effort in the 90s.

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 29, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

  11. You can blame the LTMA for this pork barrel nonsense.

    Comment by Swan — June 29, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

  12. Sub-contracting the Dim Post again, Danyl? The Young Sparticists if ‘m not mistaken. Again. The numbers in that Kelburn branch are really building.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 29, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

  13. Hey,is this one of those straw men that the boys over at “The Standard ” talk about when anyone points out their hypocracy
    Speaking of which, if making NZ green will only have a .001% effect on climate change does that make it a right for Green politicians to use carbon based travel

    Comment by rayinnz — June 29, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

  14. I agree with the general gist of this post but I don’t think environmentalists should shy from acknowledging that the 4:50, 1 interchange Luxembourg to Amsterdam train trip on state of the art high speed trains is not a hugely inconvenient replacement for plane travel.

    Comment by Burro — June 29, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  15. Hey,is this one of those straw men that the boys over at “The Standard ” talk about when anyone points out their hypocracy

    Exactly. It’s a strawman argument in response to a strawman argument, designed to demonstrate that the original strawman argument is a man made out of straw. Well done on recognising the nature of the post.

    Speaking of which, if making NZ green will only have a .001% effect on climate change does that make it a right for Green politicians to use carbon based travel

    Yes. It does.

    Also, if you read the comment thread on DPF’s “gotcha!” post allegedly of a Green MP driving her car to KFC, you soon discover that the photo is of a Green MP’s car parked on the road outside of KFC with absolutley no evidence at all she went into it. But remember, DPF doesn’t post lies, m’kay?

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 30, 2014 @ 12:16 am

  16. The reason why DPF and his mates play gotcha so much with Green politicians is because you never have to talk about the message when you mocking the messenger.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 30, 2014 @ 7:27 am

  17. Sanctuary @ 16:

    Exactly, there’s no real debate to be had on any of the facts of the argument, because the Greens are usually all too obviously correct from any rational point of view. So, DPF et al are forced to use their classic school-boy debating team tactics to try to change the topic.

    Comment by RJL — June 30, 2014 @ 8:01 am

  18. Tom Hunter @ 2: “In any case I’ll leave you with the following puzzle: the reason National support SOCIALIST ROADS is that National is ……..?

    I call Godwin.

    Comment by RJL — June 30, 2014 @ 8:03 am

  19. For years the left has been branding National as right of genghs Khan. ( Some moron earlier this year had John Key as some sort of brown shirt. john key loved it). The result today is utter confusion among national’s opponents.

    Comment by Simon — June 30, 2014 @ 9:05 am

  20. Hi Simon, when replying to a thread, it is generally regarded as bad form to deviate from the topic being discussed.

    I am disappointed that I need to point out this basic bit of on-line etiquette.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 30, 2014 @ 9:16 am

  21. Although, in the Herald alternative universe where John Key is a saint of limitless vision John Armstrong finds a heroically fiendish, subtle and Machiavellian combination to this routine pork barrel announcement. And in his usual press-gallery-detached-from-the-real-world vacuous trivilisation of our public affairs to a stupid game he completely fails to address the actual issue – is this, or is not, an enormous waste of public money?

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 30, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  22. @15: “Also, if you read the comment thread on DPF’s “gotcha!” post allegedly of a Green MP driving her car to KFC,…”
    We might remember when a few years ago Bill English was driven a short distance in a Crown limo to get a haircut, and had the limo and driver waiting parked outside in a disabled parking area.
    Interesting that National is able to rob the Provinces of millions of Roading money, then generously give a little bit back as paternal vote buying gift. How do they get away with it?

    Comment by xianmac — June 30, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  23. It’s classic “ends justify means” where Greens can harness the benefits of modern life (namely, low cost energy, the rule of law (give or take diplomatic immunity)) in order to tell us how we are killing the planet with our use of fossil fuels. When Al Gore and Prince Charles can fret about our use of fossil fuels. They also fret that Africans and Asia’s poor may want to stop burning dung and twigs and have access to the life enhancing benefits of cheap energy (lighting, refrigeration, etc). To people like Gore, Chuck and various well-travelled Greens, we are plebs, masses, unthinking, uncultured, moronic consumers of tat and junk.

    Ogden Nash – People who have what they want, are fond of telling people who haven’t what they want, that they really don’t want it.

    “And here’s the thing. ROADS are SOCIALIST.”
    And by any real objective measure (is there one, I doubt it, but I had to say it) this government is merely right of centre. They are not Libertarian. If you understand that no one other than libertarians believe roads should be privatised, you’ll perhaps understand that the “social contract” which lefties love, in NORMAL people’s minds includes access to roads and (most) beaches.
    And I’m not sure libertarians believe privatising roads is a good idea, but it’s what they insist we get when they take libertarianism to it’s logical conclusion. Personally, the cut-off between what the state does and what private citizens are left to do for themselves, is arbitrary, and is subject to broad agreement within a populace. I guess that’s why the Libs in NZ can’t get any traction: we understand what they say, but are too pragmatic to be done with that nonsense.
    Roads are not socialist any more than the Police are socialist. They are merely what, pragmatically, most NZers believe should be dealt with in a collective manner.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 2, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

  24. Comment by Clunking Fist — July 2, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

  25. @Clunking: It’s true that DPF probably doesn’t want roads privatised, so it’s not hypocritical of him to drive on them, but that’s the point – just as “roads should be privatised” is an extreme version of DPF’s free market ideology and it’s therefore silly to criticise him for not holding it, “cars and planes should be banned” is an extreme version of the Green’s sustainability beliefs, and they shouldn’t be criticised for not holding it either.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 3, 2014 @ 12:39 am

  26. Yep, I said the Greens wanted to ban planes & cars, see in post number… oh, I didn’t say that, did I?

    They simply want you to stop travelling by car and plane, through the application of guilt, taxes and regulation… unless its for a good cause, like collecting an environmental award, commuting for Greenpeace and generally carrying out Gaia’s work:

    http://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2013/10/22/one-of-the-best-things-an-environmentalist-can-do-get-on-a-plane/

    Why can’t they use video conferencing and Skype, like we do in the business world?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 3, 2014 @ 3:21 am

  27. My experience of the bizniz world is that people much prefer jumping on planes as opposed to using Skype..

    Stop pretending that the business world is some sort of icon of efficiency.. I’ve worked in the public and private sectors and they are both at least as bad as each other, although private enterprise is often more wasteful because there is tends to be more money to splash around unlike the cash-strapped taxpayer-funded orgs.

    Comment by Rob — July 3, 2014 @ 8:42 am

  28. 27.My experience of the bizniz world is that people much prefer jumping on planes as opposed to using Skype

    Then, with all due respect, you probably don’t have a lot of experience of the business world.
    The novelty of plane travel wears off swiftly for most business people, be it public or private sector. As a new grad I jumped at any chance for trip from my office in Wellington to another destination – mostly australasian, sometimes further afield.
    Once you’ve been on three or four red-eye flights from Wellington to, say, Dunedin, and spent upwards of five hours in total commute/waiting/flight time, the idea of dealing with the same one hour meeting over the phone or via skype is by far and away a preferable solution.

    Comment by Phil — July 3, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  29. What a load of steaming twaddle Phil.

    Business is all about the junkets under the guise of business trips, Skype just gives them the luxury of not having to do it when they don’t feel like it.

    Comment by Rob — July 3, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

  30. Rob, as I have never worked in the public sector, I’d defer to your better experience. But as I know quite a few folk in the PS, I know that is bollocks.

    I’m sure rightcar.govt.nz could be efficiently run. But the question should be: is it even remotely necessary for a govt to spent precious tax dollars on promoting Volvos over Vauxhalls?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 3, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

  31. Business is all about the junkets under the guise of business trips, Skype just gives them the luxury of not having to do it when they don’t feel like it.

    As someone who has probably wasted months on planes and in departure lounges in the services of capitalism, respectfully Rob, you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.
    Dead time is time unbilled.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 3, 2014 @ 5:32 pm


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