Telling porkies

Written By: - Date published: 9:50 am, May 22nd, 2008 - 42 comments
Categories: economy, education, election 2008, Environment, families, health, housing, Media, national, same old national - Tags: , , , , ,

The Herald and National have started attacking every piece of government spending as pork-barrelling. Here’s some of what they’re calling ‘wasteful, needless spending’:

$750 million of new health spending ($160 million for elective services) -Pork
$700 million for Fast Forward Fund, food and pastoral sector research -Pork
$665 million to buy the national rail operations – Pork
$446 million for community organisations – Pork
$171.6 million in operational funding to schools – Pork
$164.2 million for cervical cancer immunisation -Pork
$150 million a year to keep young people in school or training until 18 – Pork
$72.1 million over 10 years to clean up Rotorua lakes – Pork
$46.5 million for home-based support for injured people – Pork
$35 million for a shared-equity pilot scheme for homebuyers – Pork
$22.4 million over four years for state house insulation – Pork

Of course, none of this is pork: it is money going where is is needed, not for electoral gain. No doubt there are legitimate targets out there (Winston Peters’ $9m subsidy for the racing industry springs to mind), but what National and the Herald are doing here is running a radical right-wing argument whereby every piece of spending, from R&D research to insulating homes for the poor, is a waste of money. National’s education spokesperson Anne Tolley even came out yesterday and attacked more money for kids’ education as ‘pork’.

So what does this all mean? If National says it’s pork, they obviously wouldn’t spend it themselves. So, we begin to see what a National government would do:

No more money for health. No money for R&D. No flood protection. No money for transport. No insulation for the poor. No more money for education. No money for search and rescue. No cancer immunisation. No lakes cleanup. No hand-up for young home buyers.

But, of course, plenty of real pork – huge tax cuts for the rich.

42 comments on “Telling porkies”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Or alternatively Clinton

    The same amount of money spent more wisely in Health, R&D, Transport, State Housing and Education.

  2. Matthew Pilott 2

    The Herald are caling it a ‘porkometer’. t be honest i’m starting to wnder when the Herald will start having blazing headlines talking about “Cops in Bikini Porn Scandal” a-la the Truth, and having pictures of pneumatic breasts on page three. (no doubt The Evil Standard will moderate this comment – take note righties)

  3. Matthew Pilott 3

    HS – Insulation for state housing? Elective surgery? Ag Research? School funding?

    I’m sorry what was it you wanted?

  4. Tane 4

    I’m just amazed the Nats swung in behind the Herald campaign so quickly. I mean it works far better for them if the Herald is pushing this right-wing discourse themselves under the cover of journalism – by attaching their brand to it National have politicised the ‘porkometer’ and rendered it worthless.

  5. higherstandard 5

    MP

    Apologies poorly explained by myself I’m not arguing against the spending in the areas you point out just that an alternative government would spend the same or similar amounts but in a more considered way.

    For example in my area we are concerned that the money for electives will struggle to get through our current DHB deficit and if so whether we’ll have the capacity in the public service to get them done.

  6. Policy Parrot 6

    “Its about time to give back to those who “earn the pie”, as we should be focusing on how to “grow it”, rather than “distribute it”. “Wealth distribution should not be an aim of government.”

    [Roughly translated into realspeak]

    “Fuck yeah, anythings on the table as long as I get my precious. Screw everyone else, they’re just poor coz they suck and were lazy at school etc. etc. It’s not like I have to deal with or see these people, they just fix my roads and clean my toilets. The government already gives them too much money anyhow, perhaps they should invest in free sterilisation to get rid of the unproductive filth.”

    When you vote National, people who think like that are voting with you. And that is an actual compiled series of quotes (both of them).

  7. Matthew Pilott 7

    HS – if nothing else this wee exchange illustrates how such issues can’t be reduced to one-liners or gimmicks such as the “porkometer”!

    I feel The Herald is trivialising really important issues and taking away any chance for intelligent discourse – hence my comment on them sinking to the Truth’s level.

    I hope that the money gets where it’s needed and if not, the question is asked why not.

  8. Janet 8

    In today’s Dominion Post Bill English is saying some vague things about what National would do. One interesting specific is testing for primary and intermediate school kids. This is one policy that is not needed and can be dangerous for kids. Teachers overseas where this is happening find themselves having to teach to the test rather than foster real learning. It also greatly disadvantages those less academic kids who are turned off school even earlier than now when govt initiatives are all aimed at increasing engagement, and it is dire for special needs or disabled kids. Schools will be less likely to welcome these less formally academic kids as they pull down their ‘league tables’.

  9. Janet 9

    My point is that this is a real pork barrel policy. Not based on best practice evidence, just designed to scratch some anti-teacher union, and/or private school itch.

  10. Since when was $50/week a huge tax cut ?

  11. erikter 11

    Matthew said “I hope that the money gets where it’s needed…”

    You seem to forget taxation money is your money but also mine. If you want to donate to what you consider good causes, good on you, but don’t force the rest of us to follow suit.

    Go ahead and give away 50 or 60% of your salary, if you wish.

    I detest the compulsion that you like so much.

  12. give me fifty 12

    B.S. … $50 sounds huge to me. I run a small business, and organise my accounts (by claiming rent, power, insurance, car costs, international travel etc…almost everything I spend) so I don’t fall into the provisional tax trap..i.e pay more than $2500 p.a. in tax. Looks like I’ll be paying less than nothing under the brilliant John Key. Yippeee!

  13. randal 13

    awww come on you guys…talkback radio who are never wrong say its time to give John Keys a GO. what has he ever done to deserve a GO. go away more like it

  14. Matthew Pilott 14

    erikter, taxation is the price of civilisation. Until you can come up with a real argument against paying tax, I’ll just suggest you grow up get over it. You’re a three year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed.

    Bryan – when it would cost…north of five billion dollars.

  15. randal 15

    it looks very much like the nats have run out of ideas before they have even started and have just resorted to telling lies. Its much easier than producing policy. here have a $150 tax cut…hahahahaha

  16. Joker 16

    Matthew,

    Erikter actually makes an interesting point.

    Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of people from the left telling us that they get too much money compared to some of their former colleagues from lower skilled jobs. They have been gloating that they wont know what to do with the extra money they will get from Nationals tax cuts programme.

    Well I have an idea. Maybe they can voluntarily redistribute their own income to their less fortunate comrades. This would serve as a do as I do not just as I say example to those of us less sure of the benefits of government led wealth redistribution.

    Surely the selfless success of this programme would be a shining light to non believers and have them thronging in from the dark, sickles in hand.

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Joker, given that income redistribution is already happening, I doubt people are going to do so twice from a single income, but that was a nice attempt at being facetious.

    It would also not be much of an example for Government-led wealth redistribution, given that it wouldn’t be the government doing the redistribution. It would be charity, as opposed to welfare – there’s a difference I’m sure I don’t need to explain.

  18. RedLogix 18

    Bryan – when it would cost north of five billion dollars.

    Or to be more precisely located: 3.2m taxpayers * $50 * 52 weeks = $8.3 billion. Hell a few billion here, a few billion there, and pretty soon your talking real money.

    Lets put this in perspective. I’m looking at the Treasury website. In broad terms govt has a total tax revenue (roughly made up of PAYE, GST and Company Tax) of about $60b. Your $50 pw tax cut is aprox a 14% reduction in that number.

    On the other side the big ticket expenditure items are:

    Superannuation and Welfare = $20b (About $16b of that is Super)

    Health = $11b

    Education = $10b

    Transport, Energy and Communications = $7b

    Core Govt Services = $5b

    These categories along account for $53b or about 90% of all govt expenditure. Clearly a 14% reduction in govt income cannot be easily pulled out of the remaining 12% (that is spread over an enormous range of essential services like Police, Defense, DOC, Courts, Immigration, Border Security etc.)

    If you are going to take 14% out of govt revenue you have to take it out of the big ticket items listed above. Setting aside nutbar fantasies about slashing all benefits to zero, and including the fact that NO party is going to touch Superannuation, that leaves the Health, Education and Infrastructure to take the burden of your $8.3b cut, amounting to something in the region of a 20% cut across these sectors.

    Get back to me when you have a list of hospitals and schools you want closing, and I’ll take you seriously.

    [Tane: tags fixed, I think]

  19. Felix 19

    Numbers, RedLogix?
    We don’t want your stinking numbers.

    Johnny Key knows all about money, being rich and that, and he reckons your fancy numbers don’t mean NOTHING!

  20. give me fifty 20

    Red, come on, surely no one seriously believes that JK will deliver on his “north of $50” promise.

  21. erikter 21

    “Get back to me when you have a list of hospitals and schools you want closing..”

    Close each and every one of them. In summary, privatise the health and education systems.

    Of course, that will be too radical for someone with a nick that includes the word red.

  22. QoT 22

    Well, if one assumes “pork-barrel politics” means “looking out for one’s interest groups” … the argument only really works if National’s trying to say that Labour’s evil, behind-the-scenes interest group is all New Zealanders. Or at least the ones with education who live in houses in communities and may have cervices.

  23. Billy 23

    randal, I know you don’t like him but, as he going to be our next Prime Minister, it is probably best to learn his name. It is “John Key”. There is no “s”. Or are you trying to sound deranged and uninformed?

  24. Matthew Pilott 24

    Billy, I think it may be some witty play on John Key having two sides, a nice public face and a merciless capitalist (baby eating, probably) alternate persona saved for BRT meetings.

    Erikter – there’s a debate we can have. At the moment, everyone has access to schooling and healthcare – why wouldn’t you want this to continue?

    (cap ‘cove nettles’ – that brings back bad memories of the Heaphy track)

  25. higherstandard 25

    Erikter

    Close each and every one of them. In summary, privatise the health and education systems.

    What drivel a totally private health and education system with no state funding would be an unmitigated disaster for this country.

    A mix of the two is the best solution whether that mix is increased one way or the other would be a useful debate

  26. Last week my husband woke up with a finger turning black.
    It was badly infected even though he had kept his finger in hot soda water and put iodine on. We went to Hamilton Emergency ward. We arrived there 1 o’clock in the morning after half an hours drive.

    What I saw there was shocking. Three doctors who were so tired they could barely stand on their legs, old equipment and hagard wards, and endless waiting times (6 hours for a jab, an IV and a prescription).
    My husband who needed some sleep because he was hoping to go to work the next day had to sleep on a bed in the entrance hall with people running past every five minutes. I have seen emergency wards in the middle of nowhere Italy with better gear and rested doctors and a minimum waiting time. All state funded and free of charge. It was shameful, no wonder doctors go oversees, the working conditions were appalling.

    In this same hospital by the way an aunt of my husband died a month ago and although the nurses tried to make her as comfortable as possible, she was lying in a four bed ward, which was dirty, old and she had to share her last days with someone who was moaning all the time and shitting herself and there was noise everywhere and only her very last night was she accorded some dignity and was given an equally ugly old room for herself.
    I have been with people in their last moments in Holland in state owned hospitals and I am shocked at the conditions in which old people who worked their entire life to build up this country are left to die in this country simply because they have to rely on the state.

    If spending money on these hospitals is pork than I would like to know when National would begin to see the urgency of investing in important services like this.

    I know that privatising doesn’t work. In America some 35 million people don’t have the money to pay for insurance and in my native country they are finding out the same hard fact.
    Let’s pay less to the international banking cartel who only wants to keep everybody in debt and put the money we save in infrastructure, hospitals,schools and job opportunities for those who have just lost theirs, because their bosses wanted to down size their businesses.

    By the way Felix, I take offence to language like that. Arguments, please. And Yes John Key knows all about making money, its the sharing of it he has trouble with. He wants it all for himself and his rich buddies.

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    HS – what do you think of our current mix (in health)? ACT, I believe, support a tax rebate for people who pay for private Health Insurance (see question two. If you’d be so good as to answer a question I have about this. – When you’re privately insured, does your insurer refund the government for any public healthcare you use?

    Say ACT’s plan goes ahead. I have health insurance as paid for by my workplace. If I was given a rebate on tax because of this, either my insurer should pay the government for any public healthcare I used (like mny check up after a car went for a barrel-roll near Tawa), or I should be banned from all public healthcare.

    Travellerev – I believe felix was ‘taking the piss’. I hope so!

  28. Joker 28

    Travellerev

    I am sorry to hear of your Aunts suffering however I am often curious when I hear stories like this as to why the families stand by and watch this stuff go on and dont take action as there is often a choice.

    Why don’t the families say to themselves “the state has let us down and our relative is being treated inhumanely let us club together and get this person into private care”.

    Or is it that this is the kind of suffering people are unwilling to make personal financial sacrifice to change.

    I know the state should be providing adequate health care for everyone especially when they have been contributing to society through taxes all their life. But when things don’t work as they should I struggle to understand those who are unwilling to put their personal savings or equity in their house on the line for the dignity of their family members.

    I am not trying to accuse you of selfishness just wondering why this seems to be accepted practise in our society.

  29. Billy 29

    Ev,

    Your story is very sad. Especially when you consider the extra billions Labour has poured into health. Apparently for no discernible improvement.

  30. randal 30

    billy, languge is pliable, plastic and labile and Keys is not going to get a GO at being the next prime minister of New Zealand. and dont forget billy that Keys cant help what being what he is but he can change his behaviour and become a better person.

  31. Billy 31

    Good-o.

  32. Joker 32

    Crumbs randal it is only 1.30 in the afternoon you might want to let up on the piss a bit.

  33. Lampie 33

    If you are going to take 14% out of govt revenue you have to take it out of the big ticket items listed above.

    Borrow for tax cuts then

    hmmmm who said they won’t? Hmmm who is telling porkies?

    See, RED used his brain which most NZer’s fail to engage and look for some facts yourself instead of been egocentric sheep followers!

  34. Patrick 34

    Thank you erikter, you do make a point, although one I totally disagree with. Sure, National could give every tax payer an extra $50 a week, at the cost of totally privatising the health and education systems.

    Now, even with an extra $50 in the pocket, how many New Zealanders would be able to afford to send their family to school and ensure they get medical treatment when they’re sick (or heaven forbid, preventative medicine).

    If this were National’s policy (and really, at this stage it’s anybody’s guess) then I would at least be able to respect them for taking a firm ideological stand.

    As it stands though, John Key just looks like a one trick pony.

  35. Draco TB 35

    Well I have an idea. Maybe they can voluntarily redistribute their own income to their less fortunate comrades.

    This doesn’t actually work because it fails to reach the people who really need it and it fails to reach the levels needed. I should also mention that the government doing so through taxes is far more efficient than multiple institutions screwing around on their own pet projects. It is also far more stable – when giving to the poor goes out of fashion the poor become worse off under voluntary donations that have dried up. The government will, of course, still be there helping.

    Close each and every one of them. In summary, privatise the health and education systems.

    And end up with a US style health system that costs 3 times more, only reaches 5/6th of the population, and tries very hard not to take care of the people who are giving it money to do so? No thanx.

  36. ak 36

    Joker: Why don’t the families say to themselves “the state has let us down and our relative is being treated inhumanely let us club together and get this person into private care’.

    This is what saddens me most about the way the press has aided and abetted (or at the very least not scrutinised) National’s vapid, disgusting, “New Zealand Sucks” campaign.

    Well-meaning “jokers” throughout this beautiful country now worry needlessly about our first-class public services thanks to the relentless, baseless, propaganda barrage that emanates from the tories and their hate-filled lackeys.

    Joker: think for a minute. Do you know any private hospital that could have provided Eve’s husband with emergency care at 1.00am? Or 24hr palliative care for his aunt? Private hospitals slurp the profitable cream while bludging off the state to provide the essential acute and back-up services.

    And despite Eve’s unfortunate experience, our state does pretty well on the whole. As rOb has posted many times, this unimpeachable international body rates us as the second-best health system in the world: and at about a third of the cost per head of the (private) US system (which rates last).
    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/usr_doc/1027_Davis_mirror_mirror_
    international_update_final.pdf?section=4039

  37. I did not want this to be a bleeding heart comment, I was just shocked as I am used to state of the art equipped state owned hospitals in Holland were there are special rooms with special lighting an privacy for those who are dying with room for their families etc. so for me this was a major culture shock. I think it should not be so that only those who can afford to die in private care should be given dignity. People who worked their whole lives for the betterment of their fellow human beings at the detriment of their own wallet should not have to pay for dignity. This is a reasonably wealthy country and it should be able to show some compassion. it is not all about money or it shouldn’t be.

    Additionally as I said I have seen better emergency rooms in backward little villages in Italy of all places which I can assure is a lot poorer than NZ. They just set a higher priority on good socialised health care. Just like the French. I’ve had to get some there to a hospital and it is amazing how people take care of you at absolutely no cost. Bosnia another example. You walk into a doctors office and within minutes you walk out with a good diagnosis and medication and again for free. The doctors even speak English. Try finding one that speaks Serbian here. Greece is another country were on every poxy little island there is socialised healthcare.

    By the way the lady in question was not my aunt but my husbands, and I love my-in-laws but they are your typical we are not worth a lot salt of the earth people they wouldn’t even think of standing up to a system and besides all of them are on state benefits and very meagre benefits since they were all either ministers or nurses, and you know you’ll never get rich with those jobs. My husband and I were also not in the position to help that way.

    Oh by the way, the travelling while living in Europe was done over many years and lot’s of holidays. It is easy if you have car.
    5 hours and you are in Paris for example.

  38. higherstandard 38

    Mat P

    There are rare exceptions but no generally speaking private insurers do not rebate the government for any publicly funded healthcare used.

  39. higherstandard 39

    Eve

    If you are ever in the same situation again the hospices around NZ provide very good palliative care services for patients and their relatives the major base hospitals have never been very good at providing a similar service.

  40. Linda Axford 40

    Anne Tolley, oh yes, I remember her, she and hubby were keen on establishing a pokie machine business in one of the poorer suburbs of Napier, Pirimai actually, a few years ago, with no success.

    aladin

  41. Thank you HS, I will keep it in mind, but she was one of those tough old birds that basically just keeled over and was brought in via emergency so there was not time. The family was allowed to be there for her around the clock and we had an amazing three days together caring for her, she was a single lady and much loved by her extended family.

  42. Matthew Pilott 42

    HS – it seems, then, that ACT want public hospitals (and taxpayers, by extention) to subsidise private healthcare. What an odd situation to agitiate for.

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