I had a superb time at the P J O’Rourke dinner last night, and associated after match entertainment.
The night got off to a good start, when I ran into the Director of the CIS, as I was looking for my name at the table list. I only registered a couple of days ago and wasnt part of a formal group or table, so was not sure who I would be with. I was hoping it wouldn’t be a bunch of boring auditors so had requested on the form to be with some interesting people. I asked Greg if there were any interesting people at my Table – Table 8. He said “Well you’re with me and P J O Rourke, so is that interesting enough”. I managed to restrain myself from hugging Greg – but how seriously cool is that.
The dinner at Sky City was excellent and great conversation at the table. PJ’s speech and then Q&A session was simply stunning. Not only is he the funniest political speaker I have ever heard – he also delivered such a powerful strong message in favour of limited Government. I will blog some quotes from his speech, once I have a copy. It really was superb.
I could not resist in the Q&A asking him if he supported private mercenary armies, as written about by David Shearer, and O’Rourke said that is just about the only area he doesn’t support a private sector role. So I was amused that Labour’s Mt Albert candidate may be to the right of P J O’Rourke when it comes to the role of the private sector. PJ was amused over dinner to find out that one of the chapter headings of Shearer’s paper was “Give War a Chance” – the tile of one of O’Rourke’s best known books.
As I have said before, I think it is excellent Shearer has been willing to advocate that decisions on private sector involvement should be made on the basis of pragmatism, not ideology. Shearer basically says “If they can provide a better outcome, then don’t be put off by the fact they will make a profit from it”. All centrists and rightists should welcome such an outbreak of common sense in Labour, and support him. Matthew Hooton covers this theme in NBR:
What Mr Shearer advocated was that a controlling legal authority – the UN – retain ultimate responsibility for initiating, funding and regulating peace-keeping, but have flexibility in going about it.
If a company like Blackwater, Pathfinder or Executive Outcomes was better placed than soldiers from national armies to undertake a particular operation, then the UN could contract them.
This is a classic funder/provider split model. Admittedly, Mr Shearer went one step further in proposing it be applied to military operations, but his idea is no different in principle to the New Zealand Ministry of Education funding Kura Kaupapa Maori or other private schools, the Department of Corrections contracting out prison services or rehabilitation programmes, or employers choosing approved alternative insurers within the framework of a national ACC.
In each case, the state would remain responsible, being the initiator, funder and regulator, but its agencies would be able to choose the best provider of the service.
Instead of crying “privatisation”, our leaders should be expected to debate such ideas more intelligently than was evident this week.
Absolutely. Privatisation has been a hysterical catchcry from Labour for too often. We need a sensible rational debate on increased utilisation of the private sector, without the kneejerk backlash. Hooton continues:
His selection will mean Labour will never again be able to cry “privatisation” when contestability of service delivery is suggested, and will open the possibility of a more sensible debate about the current structure of the SOE portfolio. New Zealanders can only gain, both as consumers of public services and investors in state assets.
Indeed National would welcome David Shearer into the Labour Caucus. It will largely nullify the privatisation issue for National. If Shearer is confirmed as the candidate (which is highly likely as Head Office control 3/7 votes) I will not be surprised if some National Party members vote for him tactically – knowing the huge boost it will be to have in the Labour Caucus one of the world’s leading proponents (his articles have been cited in scores of other research in this area) of legitimising private sector involvement in military operations.
Anyway once again big thanks to CIS for organising the P J O’Rourke dinner and to all those who went out on the town afterwards. It did mean I was late filing my NBR column, but 3 am is a very bad time to try and start writing it.Tags: CIS, David Shearer, DPF, Matthew Hooton, Mt Albert, P J O'Rourke, privatisation