Schadenfreude

Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, June 8th, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: education, schools, spin - Tags: , ,

I am a bad person. I know this because I got a bit of a kick out of right wing loon Matthew Hooton’s latest column:

Govt fiscal strategy to unravel after humiliating education u-turn

The government’s humiliating but inevitable rout over its dopey plan to increase class sizes risks unravelling its already precarious fiscal strategy.

This one backdown adds $50 million to education costs in 2014-15, which makes a further mockery of the $197 million surplus it forecasts for that year.

More importantly, the government has shown that it is weak. It will yield in the face of political pressure ruthlessly applied, even when it’s most important promise – its pre-election surplus – is at stake.

Yes yes, all those “ruthless” parents and teachers eh. The horror.

Those who have waited for three and a half years for the government to move on policy matters that would spur economic growth have learned the hard way that quiet diplomacy doesn’t work. The government responds only to shows of force.

We’ve all been waiting for three and a half years for the government to move on policy matters that would spur economic growth, but we’re “blessed” with a government that clearly has no ideas.

Last month’s Budget consisted of hundreds of small cuts because the government is pathetically unwilling to address large-scale issues such as superannuation, out-of-control healthcare costs and Labour’s 2005 election bribes, including Working for Families, remaining KiwiSaver subsidies and interest-free student loans.

National’s refusal to touch those areas means that Bill English’s fourth Budget is more accurately described as Helen Clark and Sir Michael Cullen’s 13th, which perhaps explains why the government knighted him last weekend.

Thanks but no, Cullen would have done much better than that. No taxing paperboys for a start.

Instead of reversing Ms Clark and Sir Michael’s outrageous fiscal profligacy, National has preferred to invest its political capital in cuts with trivial impacts on the bottom line.

It was by no means profligate spending. Labour returned a surplus every year in office, and left the country with 0 net government debt. If you want “outrageous fiscal profligacy” try National’s unaffordable tax cuts for the rich.

And so on and so on, anyway, you get the picture, the hysterical right are pretty pissed that the Nats have backed down. But Hooton and his fellow travellers fail to understand two things. First, their extreme agenda is completely unacceptable to the vast majority of the NZ public (hello ACT on 0%). And second, the Nats have a razor thin majority in Parliament – any time Peter Dunne blinks it’s all over. So rant all you like Matthew – the Nats can’t afford to listen to you.

38 comments on “Schadenfreude”

  1. Carol 1

    any time Peter Dunne blinks it’s all over.

    Yep. That is how I see it.

    And not this from Hooton:
    More importantly, the government has shown that it is weak. It will yield in the face of political pressure ruthlessly applied, even when it’s most important promise – its pre-election surplus – is at stake.

    The government is not yielding on the constant widespread opposition to asset sales, but is ruthlessly pressing ahead.

    So when is the hairdo going to blink on that one?

  2. Blue 2

    Yeah, I love how WFF and interest free student loans are ‘bribes’ and should be cut immediately for the good of the country, but massive unsustainable tax cuts are not bribes at all, and must be preserved for the good of the country (‘s top income earners).

    • higherstandard 2.1

      WFF, interest free student loans and the tax cuts are all vote gaining ‘bribes’ in their own way and all should be curtailed in the current economic climate.

      • Shane Gallagher 2.1.1

        Your answer to a reduction in economic activity is to further reduce economic activity by taking money away from the people most likely to spend it and increase economic activity? Righto.

        Perhaps this is why right-wing govts around the world are driving the world economy into the ground…

        • higherstandard 2.1.1.1

          Your comment is non-sensical.

          There is no data to suggest that any of WFF, student loans or tax cuts have had any significant effect on economic activity. What they have all had an effect on is the consolidated accounts for NZ.

          As for your comment about right wing governments driving the world economy into the ground, it all depends what you call right wing our government would be considered quite left of centre by many other countries……. regardless I can’t see any government left,right or centre doing fabulously in the current economic climate, the economies that are managing to tread water are of course the worlds sweatshop or have a multimillion hectare open cast mine within their borders or other similar resources to exploit.

        • handle 2.1.1.2

          The wealthy are the least likely to spend tax cuts.

    • WFF is in effect a tax cut for working families.  I guess that Hooton & Co are upset because the cut went to the deserving working class and not the already over resourced rich …

    • Maggy May 2.3

      Bomber Bradbury has an article which says (from official papers) John Key agreed with Corporate America to change our tax laws to make it attractive for them to invest in NZ, I guess they are just waiting for our assets to go up for sale, then they will buy them, increase charges for all NZ’s to cover setting up and changes then take all profits back to America so they can increase our deficit even more. And they say John Key is working in NZ interests, I don’t think so he is working in the interests of the money markets. and the bankers of the world.

    • Georgecom 2.4

      I roll my eyes and laugh at the desperate attempts of political framing everytime I hear someone refer to WFF and Interest Free Student Loans as ‘election bribes’ or ‘fiscally unsustainable election bribes’.

      What seemingly short memories such people have.

      When these policies were being promised a certain balding, bespectacled leader of a major political party (who also had some trouble telling the truth) was promising massive fiscally unsustainable tax cut election bribes.

      Fortunately the NZ public, with some useful help from that leader himself and his struggles with honesty, saw fit not to make him prime minister.

      Imagine the fiscal hole NZ would be in now had such massive tax cut election bribes been implemented 2005-2008. They’d have made Englishes ‘tax switch’ seem almost fincally responsible by comparison.

  3. Tom Gould 3

    Key said as much himself, that the policy was great, just that people didn’t get it. So Key and Hooten are on the same page on this one, really. They both still believe that bigger classes and fewer teachers is good for our kids’ education. Pity the Key glee-club in the MSM have failed totally to pick this up. Key firmly believes the parents are completely wrong. It’s a gonner because the polling looks bad, not because the policy is crap.

    • Carol 3.1

      It’s a gonner because the hairdo was speaking out against it…. would lack the required support in parliament…. simple.

      • “It’s a gonner because the hairdo was speaking out against it…. would lack the required support in parliament…. simple.”

        Except that it was part of the budget … so had Dunne voted against it, this would have been a loss on supply and hence triggered a fall of government (assuming the Maori Party also voted against it, of course). No matter what Dunne’s reservations on the policy, I doubt he would bring the whole governing arrangement with National crashing down over it.

        I think the backtrack was purely poll-driven – it was such an unpopular move in order to save such a small amount of money (relatively speaking) that Key, et al decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

        • Carol 3.1.1.1

          OK, Andrew. You’re point sounds fair enough.

        • Hayden 3.1.1.2

          No matter what Dunne’s reservations on the policy, I doubt he would bring the whole governing arrangement with National crashing down over it.

          Maybe, but he’d probably hold Ohariu/Belmont for the rest of his life.

        • Tiger Mountain 3.1.1.3

          Poll driven at one level for sure, but the united summit of virtually all education organisations, even the lowly NZSTA for goodness sake, was the other side of it. They were not meeting for lattes and a muffin. Tory voters galore did not like this policy either and when that lot planned to get into a spot of action with teachers union members the Nats were done for.

  4. And second, the Nats have a razor thin majority in Parliament – any time Peter Dunne blinks it’s all over.

    Not exactly. Dunne has freedom to vote on non C&S issues only, and they won’t threaten the government, just limit their influence.

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      Here’s his real chance to make a difference, Pete, and shows he does more than just lip service:

      Open mike 08/06/2012

      • Pete George 4.1.1

        Maybe, but it depends on what he thinks of the select committee process and reports. All we have to go on are media reports, it’s hard to tell how much is genuine concern and how much is politicking.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.1.1.1

          Is that leper your girlfriend, Petey?

        • McFlock 4.1.1.2

          Maybe that’s what a referendum is good for?
           

        • Lanthanide 4.1.1.3

          “All we have to go on are media reports, it’s hard to tell how much is genuine concern and how much is politicking.”

          1. Media reports that say the bill was supposed to be returned to the house in 6 weeks, instead it’s going to be returned next week.
          2. Media reports that say the committee was adjourned after just 1 hour of discussions.

          I don’t know how you can claim that these actions are in any way, shape, or form, democratic or justified, especially for such a bill that is very contentious.

    • Dunne has freedom to vote on non C&S issues only, and they won’t threaten the government, just limit their influence

      Um he has full power to terminate the agreement and vote against the budget.  If he is prepared to do something good for the country …

      • felix 4.2.1

        Don’t be silly micky, there’s nothing in the world that would ever cause Peter Dunne to vote against having his fat useless arse in a cabinet seat.

      • Pete George 4.2.2

        Of course he has that power. And if he exercised his power as you suggest what do you think that would do for our democracy?

        If Labour manage to get a Labour/Green/Mana/NZF coalition together in 2014 do you think any of those parties should bring the government down if they don’t agree with something in a budget?

        Or perhaps you only want to see small party power abused to get your own power?

        • felix 4.2.2.1

          “And if he exercised his power as you suggest what do you think that would do for our democracy?”

          Err, allow it to function?

          The trouble you’re having is that you’re equating ‘the current governing arrangement’ with ‘the concept of democracy’.

          If Peter Dunne had any principles he’d vote for what he believes in. If that involves being written out of the resulting governing arrangement, so be it.

          The functioning of our system does not actually require Dunne’s presence in cabinet. Believe it or not.

          • Pete George 4.2.2.1.1

            The functioning of our system does not actually require coalition partners to bring down governments at the request of opposition parties wanting their turn at power fastracked.

        • Pascal's bookie 4.2.2.2

          And if he exercised his power as you suggest what do you think that would do for our democracy?

          nothing at all. We’d have an election.

          What do you think it would do?

  5. mac1 5

    Interesting to read the language which apologists for the government use. Matthew Hooton uses ‘ruthless” and Pete George uses ‘cacophony’ to describe the strong, credible and effective opposition effecting this backdown.

    • lprent 5.1

      All about painting themselves as victims of dangerous revolutionaries… (like teachers, principals, parents, and intermediate school kids 😈 )

      That is a very very old tactic (and extremely tired). I still surprised that anyone falls for it. But I guess that they’re targeting the unthinking like themselves.

  6. Bruce Ellis 6

    The policy was a goner when even the editorial writers in the provincial newspapers (e.g. Taranaki Daily News) wrote against it.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    …because the government is pathetically unwilling to address large-scale issues such as…and National’s 2008 election bribes, including tax cuts for the rich, their Roads of National Significance for the roading lobby and huge subsidies to private schools.

    Their, FIFY Matthew.

  8. bad12 8

    The Member for Dipton aint having a great year is He?, it was Bill and the bean counters up the road at the Treasury who came up with the cuts to the education budget,

    Bill and the Bean Counters along with a certain Captain Panic Pants who came up with the totally absurd idea of selling the ‘idea’ to the masses as ‘better’ for their kids’ with much the same ‘thinking’ behind it all as trying to convince the elderly that ‘euthanaisa’ is good for them,

    Slippery canned the whole thing after getting the low down on the latest National Party internal polling from the bookends Brownlee and Joyce, it aint pretty, the Tories internal polling that is, and the order of the day is to now get the assets flogged off so that sleight of hand can be used to achieve the much vaunted ‘book balancing’ by next election,

    A pretty simple monetary trick, sell off the first tranche of your assets, spend a pile of the proceeds into the economy building roads of no significance and rake back enough taxation from the spend up to achieve ‘fiscal surplus’ in the Government books,

    Hekia Parata aint had a original thought thus far in her life and there is 99.99% doubt whether She had even noticed the cuts in Her portfolio at the time of the budget, (that’s why the Education Ministry couldn’t tell Her which schools would be effected in what way, it was news to them as well),

    If points were being awarded on the basis of the ability to be a repetitive parrot despite being blindsided by Treasury and the Member for Dipton’s sleight of hand cost cutting it would have to go to Hekia, not the sharpest knife in the draw but able to memorize a simple National Party line of spin and repeat it ad nauseum,

    She along with the Member for Dipton and the Dullards up at the Treasury scored just that a ‘D’ for being Dumb,Dithering,Duplicitous Dickheads…

  9. fabregas4 9

    Dunne sat there doing nothing and saying nothing in the period that Key could do no wrong. I think he senses that he might need new friends come 2014 – and suddenly is vocal in opposition to some of the government policies. Does he see nationals polling?

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