Not even right wingers believe their own rhetoric about small government and the invisible hand of the market. When the shit hits the fan they call for the government to “do something!”. Internationally we’ve just had the huge taxpayer funded bailout of finance sector. Here in NZ we turn to the government to respond to the Christchurch earthquakes.
Case in point, newly converted fan of Big Government Fran O’Sullivan:
Economy in danger and Govt must act
Why hasn’t the National Government urgently launched a three-point action programme to deal with the serious risks to the economy resulting from the major earthquakes in Canterbury?
The Canterbury quakes are proving to have a much more significant impact on this country than the global financial crisis which sparked the Key Government’s launch of a “rolling maul” of initiatives.
What “rolling maul” was that exactly? Re-announcing Labour’s infrastructure spending and the highly elusive cycleway?
How hard would it be for the Government to:
* Immediately impose a special tax aimed at higher income earners to start replenishing the Natural Disaster Fund which has been exhausted by the impact of the Christchurch quakes.
* Commandeer large amounts of stable land on the outskirts of Christchurch and launch a big state-led building programme to get people safely rehoused quickly. Do this instead of allowing developers to book obscene profits at the expense of fellow citizens who have already lost enough of their equity through the quakes.
* Tell New Zealanders – including the business community – the truth about just what it will cost in future to insure residential and commercial buildings in this seismically challenged land.
Good suggestions one and all. But Fran’s pleas are going to fall on deaf ears. The Nats have set out the minimum response of their red zone package, and are clearly reluctant to attempt anything more. Whether through incompetence, inertia, small government ideology, or simple conservatism, this is not a government of action.
These are extraordinary times. The global financial system has never recovered from the recession and further turmoil seems likely. Population demographics, peak oil and extreme weather are going to raise further challenges. And as if that wasn’t enough, NZ has to cope with the aftermath of the quakes.
We desperately need an active government. A government that looks ahead, plans for the future, and isn’t afraid of innovative responses to the problems of the here and now. A government with vision and guts. It isn’t National. We have the wrong government for the times.