Guest Post: When the government is incompetent or distracted

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When the government is incompetent or distracted …

… the nation needs to step up – regardless of who will eventually take the credit.

One of my pet hates is the nonsense spoken by government politicians, of any persuasion, when they tell the people that “we have put millions/billions into such and such”. It is simply crap and we should not tolerate it. No government has any money of their own – it all belongs to the tax-payer. We should insist on accurate language. The need to say that; “we have chosen to allocate your (taxpayer) money to …”. This includes debt decisions where it should be; “we have chosen to take out loans against your future payments to do … “. Not all tax is theft but excessive tax most certainly is and I consider that we have plenty of that. Our massive bureaucracies have almost no review and accountability processes and 53 of their leaders are paid more than the Prime Minister. What are the checks of their performance and competence? Public sector salaries are climbing significantly faster that private sector ones. Big government is almost always bad government.

Although the exact words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech are a little disputed the sentiment has been carried through great democracies and needs to be incredibly important in our beautiful nation:

“that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

We have always considered our leaders to be benign, but our single House system is incredibly lacking in checks and balances especially when a party has a full majority and our population is, by and large, passive and accepting. Being “nice” is no qualification for leadership. Being effective and providing opportunities for people to improve their lives is. The great Douglas Adams provided a superb warning against people who aspire for political leadership:

“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

The Labour government cabinet is incredibly limited. I remain in genuine despair that Chris Hipkins has Education. He oversaw significant system decline in the last three years and has no idea(s). They have also failed with child poverty, housing and transport. I cannot think of an idea or indicator of how we get out of the international travel hole caused by our Covid response.

Our system – and worldwide it is the case – eliminates mavericks. How high does your tolerance for boredom need to be before you are willing to sit in Parliament under Trevor Mallard? How patient (or ambivalent to results) do you need to be to hold a Ministry and work with State sector leaders (all of whom seem to have grey as their favourite colour)?

What to do? My advice is to work 24/7 for the best of the people of the nation regardless of the government (although supporting them when they get it right). When National was in power for 9 years the education sector basically put their hands on their heads and did little to improve things while spending plenty of time and hours on opposing a trivial systemic policy in Charter Schools. National was remarkable for their lack of courage and use of political capital in many areas.

New Zealand needs good people to do good things regardless of who gets the credit. The government is ineffective and incompetent but to sit back and watch them continue to fail does no person any good. Be proactive. If you have money be philanthropic. If in business employ as many people as possible. If in education help a system that is, frankly, broken.

If you do all of this the Labour government will take the credit for efforts and may even get a third term on the back of them. So what? National did very little in 9 years … the people are far more important than the government (and the media for that matter).

Let us be the “by the people”.

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