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Which end to break the egg, and other pointless debates

Written By: - Date published: 12:29 pm, February 15th, 2009 - 22 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

The NZPA has revealed that Ministrial Services is employing fewer people on higher pay under the new National/ACT government than it did under the Labour-led government last year.

David Farrar is spinning this as great news, they’ve cut the number fo people the Government is employing ‘hurrah’. Without a trace of irony, he says the higher pay is justified because “the hours are bloody long in the Beehive!” Hmm, maybe they need to bring in some more staff.

Vernon Small, meanwhile, tries to drum up a mini-scandal by playing up the higher pay angle. I read the article at a cafe with a table of Lefties, showed it to them and the response was resigned shakes of the head and grunts that said ‘well, at least the media’s pulling the same silly shit on the new government too but can’t we have something decent instead?’

Frankly, both Farrar and Small’s arguments stem from dumb premises – Farrar’s that the Government employing people is bad, Small’s that the Government paying people high salaries is bad. If we want good government, we need to employ people and we need to pay enough to get good people but, of course, we want value for money too – so, there’s a good level of staff numbers and pay that’s more than zero and less than infinity. Given that, simply assuming it’s a good thing to cut the number employed or a bad thing to pay them more, without looking deeper to whether either of those decisions is going to deliver better value-for-money government, is flawed and lazy.

But, more than that, who gives a damn? We’re talking two dozen jobs gone and less than $10 million a year in wages employing 150. The government employs quarter of a million people and spends $7 million an hour, 24/365. It makes and enforces the rules that govern the lives of 4.25 million people and a $160 billion economy. Surely, there are bigger things that Small, if not Farrar, can be talking about.

22 comments on “Which end to break the egg, and other pointless debates ”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    Roll up, roll up… watch as the Media Magicians distract you with their lovely assistant and a few cheap card tricks, hoping you don’t notice that the “underwater escape trick” went horribly wrong and the entire economy just drowned.

  2. Santi 2

    Talking about pointless debates, what do you have to say Mr. Pierson about Labour’s support to repeal the infamous EFA?

    An incredible change of heart? A u-turn of the highest order? An act of political cowardice? What?

    You’ve stayed silent on this topic for long, and after last year’s staunch defense of the EFA, you’re more than obliged to explain yourself.

    IrishBill: “obliged”? I think not. I think rather that you are obliged to show a little more politeness toward the blog owners. Especially if you wish to continue commenting.

  3. Ari 3

    An incredible change of heart? A u-turn of the highest order? An act of political cowardice? What?

    Perhaps a desire to be onboard as the new law is developed, and to save any objections for actual flaws in National’s proposals, once they release them? 😉

    Unlike the previous opposition, I don’t think this one really believes in criticising the government purely for drawing breath 🙂

  4. Paul Robeson 4

    not related, but
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10556868

    “These measures are controversial in a nation that views prison as a place for retribution rather than rehabilitation. Many states have a “three strikes” rule that means relatively petty criminals are given life sentences”

    nothing like ideas that work huh Rodney?.

  5. peteremcc 5

    Read the bill Paul,

    The three strikes we’re proposing applies only to serious violent and sexual offences.

    This is what the lefties are campaigning for in California.

    Also, if you actually do the math, no-one will probably get a third strike for around a decade. Plenty of time to build more prisons.

  6. RedLogix 6

    applies only to serious violent and sexual offences.

    Which is pretty much how these ideas gain respectibility. Few would defend the idea that this kind of very serious recividist should be not locked up long-term for the sake of public protection if nothing else. In fact if someone under the current regime commits three serious crimes of this sort they will likely get Preventative Detention… so what you are proposing mere formalises present practise, while taking away sentencing flexibilty from the Courts.

    But once introduced, how easy for pollies in their tri-ennial ‘tough on crime’ lawnorder auction… to quickly ramp up to the point where it becomes… “so there sonny, that was THREE bottles of beer you knicked….hehe so if we make each one a separate charge, that’s three strikes….”.

    You doubtless think I exaggerate, but there are plenty of examples out of the USA which come pretty damm close to this.

  7. Westminster 7

    Has anyone asked what the comparison is with the start of the previous government? I would have thought that would be closer to an apples and apples type comparison. It comes as no surprise that the end of a government would have reached a fairly steady state of ministerial advisers whereas a brand new government takes time to stock up.

  8. I don’t think the Government employing people is necessairly bad. In fact in some areas I support having more staff. I think the massive increase in Ministerial staff under Labour was unjustified as most office staff (not all) are political, and stuff like 47 press secretaries/comms staff was over the top.

    Also the assumption that more staff would mean less hours work, doesn’t apply for most of these jobs. Most of the political staff stay at work while the Minister is there, in case they are needed. Their long hours are not so much tied to workload, but requirements if the job.

  9. Obama kicked stupid arguments about irrelevant criteria in the teeth when he said: “The fundamental question of our time is not whether government is too big or two small, it will be whether it works.”

    Can someone please tell journos about this?

    It might make more of what they write worth reading.

    National (and therefore taxpayers) might benefit from knowing it, too.

  10. @ work 10

    “peteremcc
    Read the bill Paul,

    The three strikes we’re proposing applies only to serious violent and sexual offences.”

    Excluding assulting a child as per ACT’s policy I presume?

  11. Redbaiter 11

    “whether government is too big or two (sic) small, it will be whether it works.’

    Yeah right, that bat eared c*mm*e fool would say something like that.

  12. @ work 12

    Well he hits the nail pretty much on the head Redbaiter, care to explain to us why hes wrong?

  13. SBlount 13

    “The fundamental question of our time is not whether government is too big or two small, it will be whether it works.’

    If this idea was observed we would have a government half the size of our current one.

  14. @ work 14

    SBlount
    February 16, 2009 at 11:05 am
    “The fundamental question of our time is not whether government is too big or two small, it will be whether it works.’

    If this idea was observed we would have a government half the size of our current one.

    *Woosh*

  15. “stuff like 47 press secretaries/comms staff was over the top. ”

    “If this idea was observed we would have a government half the size of our current one.”

    I’m afraid the answer to these assertions is ‘sez you’

    And, Santi, for the record I don’t resile from my support of the EFA – the donations provisions are an important step in the right direction and National is keeping them, for now, at least. The problems around the definition of electoral ad stemmed from the literalist approach the EC decided to take, disgarding years of previous conventions in the process and the politically-motivated challenges under the EFA taken by groups, primarily by rightwing groups and primarily unsuccessfully, against their opponents

  16. Redbaiter 16

    “Well he hits the nail pretty much on the head Redbaiter, ”

    Thanks for that opinion public servant.

    “care to explain to us why hes wrong?”

    Who is “us”. Can you please identify who else it is you are speaking for?

    As for your question, I’d like to expand, but I don’t have the time. Here’s the truth. Government hardly ever works even when its small, and the chance of it working when its big are non existent- Here’s an example to feast on –

    Two stories from The Australian-

    In one story-

    “VICTORIA’S fire chiefs knew they were powerless to stop the fires rolling towards Kinglake on Black Saturday, but were unable to relay warnings to the residents in time.’

    In another story-

    “THE federal Government spent $60 million on early warning for tidal waves over the past four years, while cheaper phone alert systems for bushfires and floods went unfunded.’

  17. @ work 17

    Redbaiter
    February 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm
    “Well he hits the nail pretty much on the head Redbaiter, ‘

    Thanks for that opinion public servant.

    I always find it astonishing when people like you infer so much. You have no idea what I do for a job, and no way of knowing, I can assure you it’s private sector.

    “care to explain to us why hes wrong?’

    Who is “us’. Can you please identify who else it is you are speaking for?

    Every one who reads your pathetic excuse for a comment and is a measly mouthed, knuckle jaw and line dragging apologist for the faux-liberal conservative right you so exemplify. You have made an assertion with no proof, and only on kiwiblog would people take you at your assumptions. Either pony up with something substantial or go away.


    As for your question, I’d like to expand, but I don’t have the time. Here’s the truth. Government hardly ever works even when its small, and the chance of it working when its big are non existent- Here’s an example to feast on –

    Two stories from The Australian-

    In one story-

    “VICTORIA’S fire chiefs knew they were powerless to stop the fires rolling towards Kinglake on Black Saturday, but were unable to relay warnings to the residents in time.’

    In another story-

    “THE federal Government spent $60 million on early warning for tidal waves over the past four years, while cheaper phone alert systems for bushfires and floods went unfunded.’

    Don’t have time? Weak.

    So they weren’t able to warn every one, and less people would have helped, how?

  18. Redbaiter 18

    “I can assure you it’s private sector.”

    Thanks for that “assurance”.

    “Every one who reads your pathetic excuse for a comment ”

    OK. Do you see a psychiatrist regularly? Perhaps you should. Megalomania is an insidious disease.

    “less people would have helped, how?”

    Not less people you insane non-comprehending exasperating c*mm*e dickwad. Less government.

  19. northpaw 19

    RB,
    Megalomania is an insidious disease. A righton word, dude, tho seldom expressed. Like to explain why.? And how relevant it is here..

  20. Redbaiter 20

    “Like to explain why.?”

    No, not really. If you’re so fuck*ng stupid you cannot at this juncture identify the connection between @work claiming to speak for everybody who reads “The Standard” and delusions of grandeur, then I’d clearly be wasting my time.

    Go away you bore- stalk someone else with your unchallenging infantile sh*t.

  21. @ work 21

    Redbaiter

    Not less people you insane non-comprehending exasperating c*mm*e dickwad. Less government.

    You still can’t explain how less government could have warned more people. Though that’s a given, you’ll do anything to avoid the question, emperor having no clothes and all that.

    And speaking of bad comprehension, I claim to be speaking for “Every one who reads your pathetic excuse for a comment and [Edit: IS NOT] a measly mouthed, knuckle jaw and line dragging apologist for the faux-liberal conservative right you so exemplify” not every one reading The Standard.

  22. northpaw 22

    RB,
    Megalomania is an insidious disease

    Still stands, y’see. Now do us all a favor and answer my question. Yeah, a simple civil question requiring no more than a simple civil answer.

    You’ve either got it or you haven’t. And that, dude, is exactly what you know right now. (Helpfully) Careful, you might give yo’self away..

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