According to today's NZ Herald,
Mr Maharey - made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit - has a concrete reminder of the measure he considers his greatest achievement during his 18 years in Parliament (nine of them in Cabinet).
In a frame on the wall of his new office is the law - complete with the Governor-General's signature - that introduced Working for Families, a gift from staff at the Ministry of Social Development. "It's not just a piece of legislation," Mr Maharey says. "It represents to me the high point trying to address that issue of fairness. That's what I was in politics for."
This is a politician whose idea of fairness rests on what he and his colleagues decide it is. In other words fairness is an arbitrary line drawn subjectively, not according to any principle of property rights or individual rights.
Under Working For Families it is considered fair to take the fruit of one individual's efforts and give it to another deemed more worthy or deserving.
My definition of fairness (as described in the Concise Oxford Dictionary) is " just, unbiased, equitable, legitimate, in accordance with rules."
Only the last requirement is met because the rules are set by those who do not understand the preceding.
But even putting aside matters people with different philosophies will argue about, WFF will ultimately have negative effects due to the inherent distorted incentives. It will reduce productivity, entrepreneurship and personal responsibility. Is that 'fairness' or foolishness?
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