We have an unfortunate tendency in New Zealand to reduce politics to dumb slogans. The “fart tax” was a classic example. The current case in point is “printing money”.
Last October the Greens put out a discussion document (contrary to some lazy headlines it was not a “policy”) on quantitative easing. The discussion that followed was sadly lacking, and pretty much amounted to the Nats screaming “printing money!” and “snake oil!” and trying to drum up hysteria. Good old-fashioned hippie punching as Gordon Campbell put it.
I’m not an economist and I have no strong opinion on quantitative easing. But noting that QE is being implemented by many countries, and recommended by the IMF and others, I assume that it can’t be an obviously loony approach. Russel Norman, who spearheaded the proposal, is no fool. As even Audrey Young concedes: “Dr Norman was already establishing his credentials as a highly credible economic spokesman”. That credibility should have brought the Greens a more rational discussion than they got.
So now the proposal has been dumped. This is variously described as a U-turn, or smart politics, depending on your side of the political spectrum. Maybe this is the correct decision, I really don’t know. But what I do know is that our fondness for slogan politics does New Zealand no favours. We should be open to serious discussion of radical sounding proposals. We are going to need some in the future.