Saturday, April 12, 2014

ACT 2014 policies

Not long ago ACT still had 2011 policies posted at their website. Now they have replaced them with a concise two paragraph overview in each area. Nobody has prompted me to them.

For instance, Welfare and Family:

ACT believes that the welfare system New Zealand developed from the 1970s onward has been a social and economic disaster.  While the intention of reducing hardship was noble, the incentive effects of the system have overwhelmed the resource provision effects.  The policies have led to dependency and indignity for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, with an intergenerational dimension.
ACT supports the current government’s initiatives to shift welfare from a paradigm of open-ended provision and resulting dependence to one of mutual obligation.  ACT would continue this process by reducing effective marginal tax rates for those shifting from welfare to work, outsourcing rehabilitation functions to private providers, putting lifetime limits on all welfare eligibility including Sole Parent Support, cracking down on benefit fraud, and scrapping the minimum wage.

There is a problem with putting "lifetime limits on all welfare." A small percentage of people have some form of mental or physical disability that precludes them from self-support, for some or most of their lifetime. But I can agree with lifetime limits on anybody outside of this group.

"Scrapping the minimum wage" would hopefully be accompanied by a taxfree threshold. That could be set at a level which would also enable "reducing effective marginal tax rates for those shifting from welfare to work." Otherwise achieving the second is very tricky indeed.

Here's Education:

ACT believes that education at this level is an investment in human capital that the government rightly makes.  However, the delivery of the service has been captured, at the primary, intermediate, and secondary levels at least, by a providing bureaucracy that limits choice and innovation for the purpose of self-preservation.
ACT believes that state education funding should be seen primarily as an asset of the parent and child, to be used at a school, public or private, of their choice.  ACT would diminish the role of the Ministry of Education in allocating resources, separate the property ownership role of the Ministry from the operations role, make Boards of Trustees more autonomous in their governorship of schools, introduce better mechanisms for State and Integrated schools to expand and contract according to demand, and increase the subsidy to private schools to the extent that it is expenditure neutral. 

Imagine the howls of outrage at the proposal to  increase the subsidy to private schools. But if that enables private schools to expand their rolls with a corresponding reduction in public school numbers (hence neutral expenditure change) that's a progression away from the state's near-monopoly. This policy is the headline grabber. The unions will ensure that.

One more for now. Immigration:

 ACT is and always has been the pro-immigration party.  ACT believes that immigration is a part of our natural heritage, and should continue to be so.  However, ACT also believes that government policy should seek to ensure that immigration remains a good deal for the domestic population.  To this end ACT supports the points system for new immigrants, ensuring that immigrants have readier access to work and do not have easy access to welfare, and lowering the tax burden so that the best immigrants may be attracted.  ACT is also committed to monitoring the emerging literature that suggests immigration may make the domestic population poorer through a process of capital widening.
All good with me but pleased to see that addendum about monitoring the effect on the socio economic status of the domestic population though "capital widening" may be unavoidable and only curbed by limiting immigration. The antithesis of the original  intent. But in general we don't do enough monitoring of policy.

BTW, the OECD 2014 Society at a Glance had a really interesting graph showing how NZ stacks up in terms of its foreign-born population, "our natural heritage". Almost one in four (23.6%) residents was born overseas. Up from about 18 percent in 2001. Very high in OECD terms.


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Lindsay

Thanks for the 'heads up' on the new policy briefs on the Act website. Apart from the headline 'welfare and family' I note that the word 'family' does not feature at all in their website policy briefs.

I have been an ACT supporter probably for the last three or more elections primarily on the basis of their support for small Government, but if they truly believe that the only entities that matter are the individual and the State, then they have missed the primary social building block of western civilisation, the natural family.

To say it's a bit disappointing would be to trivialise it. I guess it reenforces that reality that there is little hope to be found in the modern political realm for the preservation of western civilisation.

Anonymous said...

immigrants are fine but we should at ;east put some rules in place. e.g. pay your own health care until you have paid tax here for ten years. ditto super and unemployment benefits etc.

tough but daily we see immigrants that are here for the health care etc.

Over 55 then no benefits.