The Dim-Post

September 13, 2015

End of an era

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:58 am

So this happened last week. Via Stuff:

Parents of pre-term babies will now be entitled to a maximum of 27 weeks paid parental leave, the Government has announced.

From April 2016, the standard parental leave payments would be 18 weeks.

But if a baby was born early, its parents would receive additional weekly payments for each week prior to 37 weeks gestation, which was considered full term, Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said.

“For example, a mother who gives birth at 28 weeks would receive nine additional weekly payments, making it a total of 27 weeks of payment,” he said.

The move comes as part of an agreement to work with ACT leader David Seymour to review the support provided to parents of multiple births, babies with disabilities, and pre-term births.

Seymour previously voted against Labour MP Sue Moroney’s bill to extended paid parental leave to 26 weeks for all parents, saying it was too broad and would cost the taxpayer too much.

But he pledged to lobby the Government after Moroney identified gaps in the Government’s policy, including the lack of special assistance for parents of premature babies.

For about thirty years New Zealand politics was dominated by a radical form of free market capitalism best summed up by Ronald Reagan. ‘Government isn’t the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.’ If you removed the dead hand of the state from its interference in the economy and people’s lives, liberating them from their slave-like dependence on welfare then freedom and prosperity would follow, went the argument. It was the philosophy behind the Labour government of the 1980s and the National government of the 90s. The ACT Party was formed when Labour rejected the doctrine and it flourished for a while, only to wither when Don Brash, a high priest of the cult became leader of National.

Brash failed, and Key turned his party into a different kind of cult devoted to his own personality (maybe personality is the wrong word?). Brash went to ACT for a while, and failed there too. And now David Seymour, the last man standing, has used his ACT party vote to extend the power of the welfare state.

I would have preferred Sue Moroney’s bill. But Seymour’s compromise is better than the status quo. And it’s an expansion of the state welfare system, the destruction of which was, for many years, the ostensible reason for ACT’s existence. At one point in the not-very-distant past all of the parties in our Parliament believed in the perfect efficiency of the free market. Now none of them do.

(What I’m not clear about now is what ACT thinks it is for, other than a taxpayer-funded vehicle for National to exploit a loophole in the electoral laws.)

22 Comments »

  1. At one point in the not-very-distant past all of the parties in our Parliament believed in the perfect efficiency of the free market.

    I think the Greens still do.

    Comment by NeilM — September 13, 2015 @ 8:00 am

  2. Gotta say that Seymour has been good for Act; it’s been much harder to point and laugh at them.

    Comment by nzautoimmune — September 13, 2015 @ 8:29 am

  3. “And it’s an expansion of the state welfare system, the destruction of which was, for many years, the ostensible reason for ACT’s existence.”

    Really? I can recall many times Douglas saying that the growth of Govt should be constrained to the level of inflation and population growth and that a wealthy and efficient market economy was the best vehicle to meet welfare needs.

    Similarly, in Labour’s last three years Brash called for the growth of government be constrained to 2005 levels which at that time was pretty damned high.

    Whether you call it neo-liberal or neo-conservative such types have called *more* for using the power of the state to achieve their objectives than reducing the size either of Govt or the welfare state.

    JC

    Comment by JC — September 13, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  4. The transformation of the worship of the market into the worship of the rich and their distortion of both the state and the market for their own ends certainly has a nice political parallel in the rise of Key.

    Comment by RHT — September 13, 2015 @ 9:18 am

  5. The prem baby extra payments doesn’t make sense coming from ACT, surely when the baby is in a incubator being looked after by nursing staff, the mother can go to work😉

    Comment by SRS — September 13, 2015 @ 9:22 am

  6. I disagree with the example but not the conclusion, the provision of social insurance against the risk of a premature baby is a form of welfare that is consistent with a neo-liberal perspective (no moral hazard, no distortion of incentive to work). The much better example is Bernard Hickey interviewing Seymour on why he doesn’t support intensification in the Epson electorate and wants to restrict the Grammar zone to existing home owners excluding the new apartments.

    Comment by Finn — September 13, 2015 @ 9:28 am

  7. “For about thirty years New Zealand politics was dominated by a radical form of free market capitalism”

    You’re completely wrong on this Daniel. Some people may have wished for this. Some people may have said they would do it. Some people may have even tried to do it. The truth is it never happened.

    Helen Clark was spending over $60 billion pa. John Key is spending around $100 billion. These billions reach everywhere into our lives and into our businesses and our spending and saving.

    Never can there be a truly free market when govt is controlling so much.

    If spending had been cut back to say $40 billion you may have had a case.

    The joke is its not even affordable. A truly free market would not be running deficits every year and have run up a credit bill of $100 billion.

    Comment by Redbaiter — September 13, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  8. Who is Daniel?

    Comment by Stephen — September 13, 2015 @ 9:54 am

  9. A truly free market would not be running deficits every year and have run up a credit bill of $100 billion.

    I am curious, red, do you have an example of a “truly free market” where they are raking in billions in surpluses every year?

    Comment by eszett — September 13, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  10. Closely related: this week the New Zealand Initiative was campaigning for kids to be able to eat pies at school. Almost seems a sad end for the lobby group that drove the agenda as the Business Round table for so long (not really though)

    Comment by Von Walkelup — September 13, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

  11. @eszett: Red would probably cite the Confederacy if that nasty socialist Abraham Lincoln hadn’t ruined it.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 13, 2015 @ 6:25 pm

  12. “And it’s an expansion of the state welfare system, the destruction of which was, for many years, the ostensible reason for ACT’s existence.”

    Back in 2009, Don Brash’s 2025 Taskforce still was calling for a radical slashing of welfare benefits. And Act’s Policy from the 2014 election claimed that: “The best available diagnosis of the problems – and assessment of promising remedies – remains in the two reports of the 2025 Taskforce.

    Now Seymour seems resigned to a position that if he can get a less generous form of paid parental leave introduced than Labour had argued for, then he’s doing his job. Perhaps we may say that “”Ne ego si iterum eodem modo uicero, sine ullo milite Epsom reuertar”.

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 13, 2015 @ 7:22 pm

  13. “At one point in the not-very-distant past all of the parties in our Parliament believed in the perfect efficiency of the free market. Now none of them do.”

    Has it mutated into some kind of ‘wealthfare’ system?

    Comment by Kumara Republic — September 13, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  14. Oh – and while we’re at it, here’s David Farrar’s contorted defence of why this spending of Government money on parental leave is “good” policy (as opposed to Labour’s “bad” policy):

    Here ACT have argued for more support, but only in circumstances where a mother has been disadvantaged by events outside her control. So they are not arguing for more leave for all mothers – as you do choose to have a baby.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/tag/paid_parental_leave

    But has he considered all those women who will now choose early elective cesarean births in order to get those extra few weeks? Has he? I think not!

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 13, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

  15. What I’m not clear about now is what ACT thinks it is for, other than a taxpayer-funded vehicle for National to exploit a loophole in the electoral laws.

    Well, yeah, but that’s been a fair assessment for years now, since well before Seymour arrived on the scene. He might as well do what he likes, we’re paying him regardless. We should just be glad this is something he likes – it beats the shit out of the kind of things Banks liked.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 13, 2015 @ 9:48 pm

  16. @Psycho: Yeah, Seymour appears to be, if not exactly a cynical careerist, a populace who is more attentive to the short-term wishes of his electorate than some abstract principle. Normally I would frown at that but given the abstract principles available to ACT members, it’s probably for the best.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 13, 2015 @ 10:36 pm

  17. It’d be funny to get the opinions of the former Libertarianz on this, especially since they endorsed ACT after disbanding.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — September 13, 2015 @ 11:17 pm

  18. I see Corbyn’s victory is a victory over Blair. If he can beat a politician 8 years out of office who says an Alan Bennett character can’t bring about a socialist paradise.

    Comment by NeilM — September 14, 2015 @ 7:24 am

  19. What I’m not clear about now is what ACT thinks it is for, other than a taxpayer-funded vehicle for National to exploit a loophole in the electoral laws.

    Since about the time when Richard Prebble left, has it ever been anything other than a shelf party, to be bought up and used for instant party creation, with none of those annoying getting-off-the-ground overheads? David Seymore, with his National Party masters, just seems to be the guy holding the reigns on it right now. But that could change again at the next election if someone else with money comes along, wanting to buy up the 2% of people who vote for ACT no-matter-what.

    Comment by izogi — September 14, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  20. Oops, obviously I meant to write David Seymour, duh. (My apologies to him.)

    Comment by izogi — September 14, 2015 @ 9:08 am

  21. “At one point in the not-very-distant past all of the parties in our Parliament believed in the perfect efficiency of the free market. Now none of them do.”

    I wish this were true. Unfortunately, many in National and a few in Labour still have this erroneous presumption in their bones….

    Comment by Steve W — September 14, 2015 @ 11:53 pm

  22. Maybe the ‘end of an era’ looks a bit premature…

    ACT leader David Seymour’s ‘harden up’ line stuns Wellington students

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 15, 2015 @ 2:27 pm


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