Why giving a party vote is fundamentally undemocratic
That the political party system in this country has very much contributed to New Zealand slipping so far down any scale of prosperity and productivity has become very obvious. National has had three years to lay out a concrete plan for redirecting this country to encourage business enterprise, grow confidence and support initiative.
Its dismal failure can be sheeted home to a number of things. Foremost has been its decision to operate as a tightly closed company board, over-dependent on the populist appeal of its smooth chief executive, National Party leader John Key, a former currency trader – or, to borrow a phrase – a money shuffler. Contrary to the party’s claim that it is successful in office because it can rely upon the business acumen of a self-made millionaire – John Key is hardly that, a successful businessman, in the sense of developing and overseeing a company to provide employment and produce goods or services which have contributed to the country – indirectly receiving the rewards of doing so.
According to Wikipedia, Key joined Merrill Lynch Merchant Bank as head of Asian Foreign Exchange in Singapore. Promoted in that same year to Merrill’s global head of foreign exchange, he was based in London where he is estimated to have earned around US $2.25 million a year – including bonuses – about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates. In the right job and given the right contacts, it is apparently not difficult to become a millionaire when employed by the major banks dealing in moving money backwards and forwards internationally. This process has nothing whatever to do with the self-made millionaire notion of a man who has rolled his sleeves up to invent, or start, develop and work hard at a new business – with all its social and economic benefits.
This well-rewarded currency trader millionaire gained his name “the smiling assassin” when some co-workers reportedly noted his “maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.” John Key was also a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 – 2001.
The must-see DVD INSIDE JOB, fronted by Matt Damon, has blown the lid off the cauldron of scandal that brewed following the shocking events and corruption underpinning the economic crisis of 2008, leading to a global financial meltdown. The consequences of the cynicism, egoism, greed, and scandalous lack of concern shown by major banks and financial houses – let alone the very rating agencies which were supposed to oversee them – are still with us and compounding, rather than lessening. This includes the human misery contained in the loss, to so many millions of people, of their jobs, their homes, their future.
The film INSIDE JOB was screened at the 2010 Cannes film Festival in May and won the Academy award for Best documentary feature, well reviewed by film critics who praised its pacing, research, and exposition of complex material.
There are lessons for New Zealand in the deregulation of the American financial industry from 1980 onwards. At the end of the 1980s a savings and loan crisis cost US taxpayers about $124 billion – according to web sources. By the late 1990s, a few giant firms dominated the financial sector. Scandalously, the Internet stock bubble burst because investment banks had promoted Internet companies that they knew would fail, resulting in $5 trillion investor losses.
The (to the layman, barely comprehensible) notion of derivatives, becoming popular in the industry, helped to destabilise it. Efforts to regulate these were prevented by the Commodities Futures Modernisation Act of 2000 – (“modernisation” is always such a usefully manipulative word) – backed by key officials. By the 2000s five investment banks dominated the industries – Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Bros, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch (the bank where the Prime Minister had been previously employed, in Singapore and London). To compound the scandal of what should have been a free, transparent market of enterprise, but which is now recognised as having been operating in a vacuum of those moral values necessary to underpin capitalism, three rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch had been bestowing AAA ratings right up to the collapse of the banks.
In New Zealand, the same ideology of, essentially, light-handed regulation, promoted particularly by the New Zealand Business Roundtable, is seen in retrospect to have removed some of the safeguards previously regarded as necessary to protect individuals and businesses. The recent collapse of so many finance companies, costing thousands of New Zealanders their lifetimes’ and retirement savings – allied to operational tragedies such as the Pike River Mine disaster, where the removal of experienced inspectors undoubtedly contributed to what some see as an unacceptable laissez-faire overseeing of its operations; and the Cave Creek disaster of a shoddily built, improperly supervised Conservation Department platform, are two egregious examples of how efforts to remove what was argued to be over-heavy state control of business and financial markets are now belatedly recognised as naïvely and ideologically motivated.
Moreover, the lesson that the more our society moves into what anti-Christian apologists like to hail as a post-Christian era, the more regulation is going to be needed to replace the constraints once felt by individuals whose initiatives were underpinned by Christian ethics, and the operation of conscience, has apparently been lost. A premature calling for the demise of respect for Christianity contributes to the demise of respect for those values necessary for the rights and responsibilities of individuals to be emphasised. It also lessens the possibility of a truly democratic society. Essentially, it is equivalent to arguing for society to operate in a moral vacuum – each deciding on their pick and mix moral codes. Yet the increasing lack of those traditionally underpinning the West has brought its inevitable consequences – some of which have, horrendously, already wreaked enormous damage.
There is no doubt of the damage done to the concept of the free market, when the market has been seen after all to be not at all free – but captured by the large corporations determined on self advantage and self-interest.
Late in the day as it is, and with an election looming, well overdue questions need to be raised about any version of capitalism which operates in the absence of conscience and of basic standards of honesty and transparency. In a sense this is a tragedy for the concept of free market – a tragedy for New Zealand too, as there is no doubt that the agenda of the far Left, whether dominated by communist or socialist ideologies, has waged war against the individual and everything he or she stands for.
Unfortunately, too, as investigative journalist Ian Wishart details in his closely researched new book – Daylight Robbery – New Zealanders have been taken to the cleaners these recent decades. Wishart’s cover focus is on state asset sales, the government’s controversial dealings in relation to Alan Hubbard; compulsory Kiwi Saver, the global crisis; finance company collapses. (We can note, too, how much it profits company liquidators to spin out the investigative process as long as possible – and how much correspondingly less those who were cheated by crooked directors will eventually receive back.)
It is highly relevant to our election choices to note that the justification for the free market, the fairest and freest way of conducting business transactions between mutually advantaged individuals, companies, etc. has also been damagingly undermined by far Right ideology in this country, since the imposition of the Roger Douglas reforms. While many arguably were overdue, very fair questions have been raised about their damaging, tops-down implementation which sidelined New Zealanders, totally undemocratically, rather than involving them in much-needed debate about the way forward.
The ideology of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, perceived as barracking for the interests of big business – and with some of its members involved in dubious events in our recent history – has also been damaging. The fact of so many New Zealand families losing their children to overseas, not just for the usual OE experience, but because they have found the burden of the student loans insurmountable, can well and truly be sheeted home to the Roundtable’s input into the Todd report, at the height of its highest influence, with Doug Myers as its media-courted chairman. The abolition of the apprenticeship scheme – disliked by the big businesses that subsequently lost the apprentices they had trained – led to a nationwide dearth of well-skilled tradesmen – contrasted with the correspondingly inappropriate promoting to the universities of ill-educated youngsters unable to cope even with the basic literacy requirements of university courses.
The mandarin-like way in which the Roundtable operated; its wining and dining of government ministers; its wrong-headed promotion of asset sales – which of course ultimately most benefits big businesses – rather than the mythical mom and pop investors; its unwillingness to acknowledge the ability of well-funded overseas buyers to far outbid New Zealanders capacity to keep our farmland in New Zealand hands – let alone the folly and short-sightedness of arguing for the sale of our productive dairy farms. New Zealanders are, rightly, deeply concerned about the sale of our actual land, to supposedly private, Hong-Kong fronted – but, in reality, Communist Chinese government-involved companies.
All these initiatives were blithely supported by the recently deceased Roger Kerr. One can respect an individual for his courage, commitment and good intent. But there is a very good case for the argument that 25 years at the helm of an organisation which above all represented big business interests in this country – despite disclaimers – was too long – especially when this also involved writing the speeches for its influential members to deliver. When the far Right is seen as simply the opposite side of the coin to the Far left, with small businesses, the individual and family under damaging pressure from both ends of the political spectrum, that basic freedom which alone can underpin a stable democracy is under attack.
Two or three decades back prescient books were being written by writers such as Geoff McDonald and Dennis McKenna pointing out that New Zealand was at the crossroads. We are now well past these crossroads. We have gone a long way down the track away from what should be very basic freedoms for families and individuals, when our country is no longer governed by elected representatives, chosen by individual electorates – and representing the wishes of that electorate. It would be a very naive individual who still regards this as happening. On the contrary, despite any superficial show of local consultation, our political parties’ hierarchies now make the final choices of who will stand for the parties. For example – and doubtless the same thing happened with Labour… party leader John Key himself picked the previous election’s party lists. So much for democratic input – resulting in this country having no choice but to vote for the choices of the leaders?
Or does it? Do we, as a people, have any opportunity to become part of the worldwide movement to reclaim democracy?
An alternative voting system will not do it, making superficial changes only. And how many New Zealanders really think it acceptable that National Party Minister Steven Joyce, previous to the last election, oversaw the selection of the List candidates, although he himself was merely an unelected List candidate? Not one New Zealander voted him into this pre-eminently powerful position – any more than anyone voted for controversial Treaty Negotiations Minister, Chris Finlayson. So much for democracy.
At present, New Zealanders are being governed by what amounts to that company board referred to earlier, where it is not even the caucus that makes the decisions for the National Party’s MPs, but where they are told what to do by their highly ambitious and populist leader. There is no question of MPs following the wishes of the electorate when an autocratic leader does not allow tolerate dissent, and when the consequences of demotion, loss of perks and privileges and salary are largely what make self-serving decisions for the yes-men and -women who consequently make up the corporate body of the National Party – with Labour showing no signs of being any different.
Those who think this is a harsh assessment need look only at the curious decision made by John Key to support the agenda of his political foes, the radicalised far Left Sue Bradford and all-dominating Helen Clark, ignoring the wishes of the country with regard to its 85% opposition to the anti-smacking legislation. Similarly the government, as well as the Labour Party, knows full well that the whole man-made global warming cult scenario is a scam – see Lying Cheating, Climate Scientists Caught Lying Cheating Again – by James Delingpole.
But the spin-off for both parties in the form of higher taxation and increased government power and control has been irresistible.
Why then would you give any political party your vote? Many will, because of a vague concern that they shouldn’t “waste” their vote. However, there is a much stronger case to be made against giving any of the political parties our vote.
It can legitimately be argued that to vote for a party that one knows well will follow its own damaging agenda, ignoring the will of the public, is the real misuse of a democratic vote.
Both National and Labour’s planned path forward will undoubtedly further damage this country…National with its back-against-the-wall, bankrupt policy of asset sales of property that legitimately belong to all New Zealanders…Labour, with its ill-thought-out capital gains tax – let alone the tinkering with so many other areas of what can now be seen belong to a country in steep decline. None of these pre-election policies have anything at all to do with attempting to restore prosperity to this country. Neither of our major parties have taken on board the lessons that forcing the closing down of our small businesses by exposing them to the sheer unfairness of international competition against countries paying the workforce a pittance, cannot possibly contribute to our own prosperity.
Not only is there a total absence of any growth strategy – (replaced by the inevitable focus, as usual, on the excessive social welfare payouts that have exploded as a result of the previous lavish vote-buying by governments – Helen Clark’s Labour’s Left in particular, which have established a demeaning expectancy of “entitlements”on the part of so many) – but Labour has not yet even begun to address its own culpability with regard to its former leader Helen Clark and its equally damaging former Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s strong push to actually encourage businesses from this country to move and operate offshore instead.
Again, with that strange complicity we have begun to note throughout the political oligarchy, Cullen was helpfully promoted by John Key, as soon as he got the opportunity, with a well calculated hand-up. It beggars belief that these politicians were so mentally challenged that they could not see the consequences for the New Zealand workforce with what has inevitably resulted – so many thousands now displaced from jobs they previously held, so much social instability, stress and concern for individuals, businesses and families. So much for the principle of – First, do no harm – and for promoting national prosperity, a living wage for every worker, the ability for a mother to stay at home, where she is needed – instead of even more incentives to make it difficult for her to do so – with the inevitably damaging consequences that accrue when a mother is not at home for her children.
Has it been merely accidental that these strongly promoted reforms were so ill-thought ? If so, the combined IQ of politicians would be even less than most people estimate it. Or was there an agenda? And if so, how different has been that on the part of the far Right from the far Left? Both political parties have been vote-buying. The inherent flaw of MMP – that rather than minority parties achieving a fair measure of representation, we have had in fact in recent years the tail well and truly wagging the dog – has highlighted the fact that MMP can inflict even more corrupt anti-democratic outcomes on the country. As African American writer Thomas Sowell points out, minorities can bully majority governments and eventually it can be their agenda that dominates, when each major party woos a minority one in order to form a government.
We have already seen this happening with the radicalised, un-representative Maori Party which does not even speak for majority Maori. Gaining less than 3% of the votes in the last election, it has succeeded, with the compliance of the National Party, in being highly instrumental in supporting activist iwis’ manipulative politicising. Taxpayers willing to settle genuine grievances are perturbed that what now amount to many, accumulatively, billions of dollars have been handed over to tribal interests only in recent decades.
Moreover the economy is weakened by the revisiting and continual payout (in an increasing number of cases) of utterly spurious compensation for un-proven claims. Some previously settled by the National Party under Jim Bolger’s leadership, as well as recent settlements made under Key’s overseeing, rely upon unfounded assertions, the misrepresentation of history, and straight-out untruths. Moreover, it is ominous and highly significant that in any discussion of how to make substantial savings, neither the National nor Labour Party has shown any genuine inclination to put a stop to what are now essentially rorts against majority New Zealanders – both non-Maori and including majority (part-)Maori – as all are now part-only Maori.
The lesson we should have learnt ? It is that to vote for a party, to give any of our political parties an actual party vote is, now equivalent to a vote against a democracy.
The smartest political move of all now, and the way to our future, is to refuse to support the continuation of the gross abuse of power by our political parties which has exponentially grown in recent years.
What politicians most want is the party vote.
Those who most want the party vote are those for whom nobody has voted – those List members who are not answerable to any New Zealanders – other than their party boss.
If one holds to the belief that in a true democracy nobody should be in Parliament without first presenting themselves for scrutiny by the voting public, then one cannot in conscience give a party vote.
New Zealanders are faced with a conundrum. Most certainly do not trust either of the major parties, and will certainly no longer back First Past the Post – FPP. They will stick with MMP partly to punish the major parties. But they are also well aware that the system is equally flawed and can deliver even less democratic outcomes.
What the country most wants is what politicians least want – that New Zealanders themselves should be able to make the decisions regarding the directions in which they want the country to go. They want to prevent bad law – and to throw out unaccountable politicians.
Other posts and articles on this site show how eminently achievable this is – through our Claiming Back New Zealand – 100 Days initiative – www.100days.co.nz . Simplicity itself, it was the method that the most successful democracy in the world finally decided upon – that of Switzerland, repudiating any tops-down decisions by government, and ensuring that the Swiss people themselves have complete control over their way of life.
Their solution was not only eminently simple and workable – it has overseen Switzerland becoming the most successful democracy in the world. And given the eventual tipping point – when this country has become thoroughly disillusioned with our vote-buying political parties and their impositions on the public at large, it will come in this country.
This movement is already well underway. The sooner you join us to help it forward, the sooner will come its success.
In this respect, don’t miss the latest article we have added – by expat New Zealander, Jeff McIntyre, an excellent analysis by a well experienced political commentator of the status quo in this country – and of how essential and how easily, fundamentally, it will be, to reclaim this country. Its title:
The most significant proposed change to New Zealand’s electoral laws
Preventing bad law and throwing out unaccountable politicians.
© Amy Brooke – for 100 Days – Claiming back New Zealand