Recently Bowalley Road complained about post-settlement organisations forming a Maori middle class. Like it was a bad thing. I’m also hearing people on the left decry the idea of the state. Being an only slightly repentant modernist statist Labour supporter, I thought I might find alternatives. The tests I looked for were:
Finally, I had to imagine this as a realistic alternative.
Ngai Tahu Holdings
Granted, it’s a creature formed by the state in a statute. Is that a design flaw, or just motivation for the journey?
But here’s the link, and here’s the summary.
In 1999 it had total assets of just over $200 million. Now, it has total assets of $1,348,275, and total equity of $1,149,000.
Its group asset profile by equity is:
To break just one of those down, Ngai Tahu Capital includes Whalewatch Kaikoura, Waikato Milking Systems, Go Bus, and Private Equity investments.
Out of that, every year they get to give out a total of $6,480,000, including $360,000 in straight grants. They can show you who gets those, right across their many, many thousands of registered beneficiary individuals, families, and organisations. Have a look at some of the stories.
Now, of course they have internal contests for power. With that amount of power, they probably should. You can delve into whether you think it operates like your version of a democracy for yourself. But it does its job: to be good to its many people for the very, very long term.
Is this socialism? Is this a state within a state? Is it some unholy unnamed amalgam of state, tribe, business, welfare agency, landlord, and shareholder? Does it need a category name after all? They’ll never be taken over, never be voted out of office, and always represent their people.
Here’s just one more.
Accident Compensation Commission
Because ACC now collects enough levies to cover the lifetime cost of each injury, it’s now fully funded. In 2009, it posted the biggest loss in New Zealand corporate history: $4.8 billion. It took a pretty hard-nosed approach to get ACC back to a financially sustainable position, which you can debate. In 2012 it had liabilities of $28.5 billion, and assets of $24 billion. It intends to be fully self-funding by 2019. No more levies, no more PAYE extraction, no more government contributions, and lower petrol taxes.
Independent, perpetual, permanent, guilt-free accident rehabilitation. Within three years.
It’s not as generous as it once was, nor as generous as it could be. But let’s remind ourselves that it covers all work-related injuries, and all non-work related injuries, and that’s whether you’re an income earner or not. And also covers injuries as a result of medical treatment. That’s how much of a money-sucking private insurance industry we almost totally avoid.
It covers tourists, morons and other people who keep doing the same thing over and over again, and every citizen doing everything you can think of accidentally (with exception of in the act of committing a crime with a jail time of two years or more). They help us through 1.8 million injuries a year, plus hundreds of thousands of ongoing cases. All the way from bruised paperboy to funeral costs. That’s a lot of New Zealanders.
Both Ngai Tahu and ACC are creatures of the state. Both are well on their way to becoming entirely independent of the state. Both are clear about who their beneficiaries are. Both make big mistakes that impact on people. Neither will ever be as big as the state. Both have massive public profiles, and aren’t companies in the ordinary sense, or democracies in the ordinary sense.
Ngai Tahu incorporated and ACC are their own non-state worlds. They exist more and more as examples of what life without dependence upon the state could become. Whether they supplant the state or not, they are an alternative.