Monday, August 3, 2009

Our lasting appreciation

Remember when I generously gave the Herald the hint to get all righteous about MPs' expense claims? They're still on about it, and the latest victim, in today's editorial, is none other than Roger Douglas - you may recall him from such policies as 'Rogernomics':

When MPs' individual expense claims were made public for the first time last week attention rightly centred on an item that was not unusual.

Sir Roger Douglas had given the taxpayer one of the highest travel bills - which included return flights to London for him and his wife to visit their grandson. Sir Roger said this was his entitlement not for being an MP but for being an ex-MP. He, like others with long service, had qualified for overseas travel on the taxpayer since his retirement in 1990.

Yeah, let him have it! Another privileged and wealthy (I assume) grandee abusing the system!
It is a pity his should be the case that surely discredits this rort once and for all. Of all politicians of his generation Sir Roger Douglas has probably done most to earn the country's lasting appreciation. But for his clear-eyed, single-minded determination the economy would not have been jolted out of its torpid decline in 1984.
Erm, yeah, show him, um, who's boss... wooo...

Market exposure might have happened without him but it would have been partial and hesitant and would not have given the country the sense of direction that he installed.

He was able to move rapidly and radically precisely because he was not interested in accumulating long-service benefits. He did what he believed needed to be done regardless of political risk. He was in Parliament for a purpose larger than a personal career, as he is again. He returned at the last election determined to put steel in the Key Government if he could.

Ok, what? Who wrote this - Richard Prebble? I'm far from being one of these people who blames all of society's ills on the reforms of the fourth Labour government, and I hardly look back with nostalgia on those days (which I can't remember anyway) when you needed a medical certificate to buy margarine. But really, "clear-eyed, single-minded determination"? "The country's lasting appreciation"? "He did what he believed needed to be done regardless of political risk"? Are we talking about Roger Douglas or Winston Churchill? Or Action Man? Regardless of what you think the 'objective' consequences of the 1980s reforms were, I would say that, other than Muldoon, no senior government minister (sorry Sue Bradford) has been disliked so much by so many New Zealanders.

The fact that such hagiography emerges, however briefly, from the country's main daily newspaper - a newspaper that also referred in a recent editorial to some alleged group called "the Left", whatever that means - I find ever so slightly worrying.

Wait, do I mean worrying or completely expected?


  1. It's a little off-topic, for sure... I guess they've been saving it up until Sir Roger made the news ("quick, we're behind our annual pro-free-market editorial targets, better shove something in now while it's vaguely relevant or Garth will have us fired and made into pies")

    You gotta love the irony in the conclusion:
    "Politics is an ultimately thankless public service."

  2. Wait, wait, what?? I read that in the paper version but I SWEAR most of the last bit wasn't there.

    Maybe my mind blanked it in horror.

  3. Edit: or I'm thinking of the original article, that the editiorial no doubt is plagari-'referenced' from.

  4. "medical certificate to buy margarine" thats gold right there.

  5. Barf! The Herald editor has some wierd, privileged, and comfortably well-off views about the NZ economy post-Muldoon. My Mum, Dad and brother were all on benefits at once in 1990 and my school age sister lived with me because I had a good job. Rogernomics was ugly. The poorest people bore the brunt unfairly throughout the 80's and National exacerbated it by cutting benefits to levels proven to be inadequate to survive on. Unemployment was rife for school leavers and university graduates and student loans piled more debt on younger workers. It seems like Roger Douglas is back to protect his creation as much as move it forward. Installing a capital gains tax (CGT) is necessary and he wasn't brave enough to instigate one - none of the politicians then or since have been. A CGT would affect his generation the most and makes very good sense on many other levels. I wonder whether he'd be as popular with his wealthy friends if he institued a CGT tho...