Today’s anonymous Herald editorial is scathing of Labour’s NZ Inc policy, which defies all logic and reason by assuming that there are better ways to build our economy than flogging off profitable assets, built by New Zealanders, to foreign investors.
One of the arguments is literally that Labour shouldn’t pass laws which future governments might overturn! If only we’d heard the same when the GCSB Act was being passed.
I’m not an economist, sure. But I’m a political observer. And asset sales have never benefited this country – they’ve benefited private speculators (very few of them Mums and Dads) who pursue profit, and cost our country both in terms of the future dividends from those assets and the basic level of service you get when an organisation is run to serve the public interest instead of to make money for the sake of money.
The core conflict between the NZ Inc policy and the anonymous writer at the Herald is about public interest. It’s about believing that there are some fundamental things which are more important than money, and being a country which can stand on its own two feet and isn’t beholden to private interests is one of them. Believing that assets are strategic, and have a value to our community beyond their ability to earn money.
The Herald’s editorial says deciding which ventures to invest in should be left to private investors who are “willing to take the risks”. That’s another myth. We’ve seen more than enough examples of private investors demanding bailouts from the government, or covering their own asses with trusts and cunning accounting, or simply funding rightwing parties to get into government and sell them the assets which we built up over the years so they can skim the cream off the top.
NZ Inc challenges a lot of the received wisdom about the supremacy of private market manipulators. And that’s one of the best things you can say about an economic policy.