In this and the next few blogs I want to consider the values of the 4 major NZ parties at face value. Let's start with ACT Party NZ.
The nice aspect about ACT is that they convey a greater respect for principles and personal autonomy than all of the other parties. Do they personally adhere to their states values; its hard to say since they have not been in government, and much of their politicking is going to occur behind closed doors as members of the National Party Coalition. Reading from their website - they hold the following principles:
1. To promote an open, progressive and benevolent society in which individual New Zealanders are free to achieve their full potential.
This is a nice, flowery notion, but what does it mean? They don't say.
2. That individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities
This conveys the sense that the party believes people should be personally autonomous and accountable for their own lives. This is admirable, but perhaps it does not resonate with people because they don't feel they are in a position where they are ready for that type of responsibility, i.e. The global economy is weak, the nation indebted. Is there any provisioning by ACT for this context, or are they going to feel the 'full reality' of a global context that they did not create. After all, this economy has been distorted to a point where people cannot get jobs, where people are only spending on basic necessities. Does ACT consider this context, or does it delude itself, and hold its principles out of context? Its not apparent that they think in such terms from their policy positions, i.e. They strike me as religious, disengaged, self-righteous Christian Conservatives. Or are they just anti-intellectual anarchists? Probably a split between both in terms of membership, though I'm uncertain in the party executive.
3. The proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities.
This is also an admirable position, but again it raises several concerns for two reasons:
a. What do they consider to be the basis of rights. It is traditional not to care? But it makes all the difference. Are they speaking of divine rights, natural rights, albeit probably not social rights, but such issues should not be left arbitrary.
b. We have an answer to my previous question. They say they will effectively 'on no terms' assume responsibility for others. This is a problem because they are dispensing with 'context', i.e. They retain dogmatic 'Christian' principles, which means they are going to struggle to develop a coherent, or relevant justification for their policy. This means their beliefs will never resonate with the community because at each step to 'ground' those ideas in reality, they will fail. That's unfortunate. At face value, they have the best principles. Just its dogma.
The Party shall promote, develop and pursue policies and proposals which:
4. Encourage individual choice and responsibility and the pursuit of excellence in all fields of human endeavour
Given that implicit dogmatism in ACT Party values, we might have to wonder whether the party executive will campaign for abortion, laws limiting pornography, etc. You might not have a problem with such initiatives, but I implore you to consider why these are issues, i.e. Why teens are getting pregnant, why people have perverted sexual values. Far from being an intellectual framework for stopping these values, the philosophy roots of ACT actually advance those 'perverted' values. Recognise that there is a tendency for pastors and Catholic kids to display perverted sexual values. Their minds have been detached from their values; which are 'dogmatically' inspired, i.e. subjective since there is actually no god.
As much as I like the 'pursuit of excellence', it won't be achieved through adherence to dogmatism.
5. Enhance living standards for all New Zealanders through sustainable economic growth and international competitiveness
The problem with ACT, as with other parties, is that they care little how that growth is to be achieved and sustained. The implication is that if ACT were elected today, based on their stated policies, we would have to expect them to cut public servant jobs, cause a lot of unemployment, have faith that the business community will create them; whilst business just sits on its hands because of the global weakness. What does ACT do then to sustain growth? Might it drop the mininum wage? Fine, but there is still no global growth? It can only stimulate spending with monetary policy. i.e. Lowering interest rates. This will unlikely in a global context, even if agricultural sector remains strong because of good commodity prices. Expect them to compromise. Dogma was never going to be sustainable. They are a sinking Christian 'noah's arc'.
6. Enhance choice and diversity, and raise standards of achievement in education
This is of course desirable; though what does 'diversity' mean? The issue here is how they intend to achieve it based on their dogmatic values. This is the problem; it might even spell teaching the Bible in schools. This is seems implausible in NZ, but what Christian could oppose such a well-intentioned policy. Expect rational standards to go out the window. More plausibly, the Left would end up tightening their grip on education, so nothing would be achieved there.
7. Ensure that all New Zealanders have access to quality health care and have security in retirement
This strikes me as inconsistent with their statements about rights; so here we are getting a sense that they are not totally about 'autonomous man'. i.e. They have not even been elected, and yet they are already starting to fail on policy. Its not like this is 'context'; this is aspiration. Reason? No, faith. Interesting to know their justification. Of course, a rational argument is plausible...but do they have one?
8. Maintain social and economic support for those unable to help themselves and who are in genuine need of assistance
This is of course 'welfare statism', so is this not incompatible with their notion of personal responsibility and autonomy. So, we are already seeing some inconsistency in their stated values. Is anyone surprised?
9. Provide for the nation’s security and the protection of individual lives and property
Can't argue with that. Of course a nation has to defend itself; though I'd personally look for a framework of policy-making which did not make me a slave to excessive or expansionary defence spending; as characterised the US in the 1980s. Protection of private property? Most certainly, though I'd personally exclude land because it was initially acquired illegitimately, and its a source of extortion. Land ought to be public, and the basis of 'rational user-pays' taxes, and only property based on 'user improvements' ought to be protected. i.e. People ought not be able to extort wealth through land speculation. They don't create value; they extort it from an expanding population. Harder to do in NZ, but still possible because of lifestyle changes.
10. Explore and implement practical and innovative ways to protect the natural environment
No problem with that. Land should be set aside for public uses, and plausibly for protection of habitats, but not as a dogmatic or servile creed to the greater value of other species.
11. Maintain sound economic management, including (but not limited to) a balanced government budget, price stability and a free and open market economy
Entirely reasonable and proper objective; though they will struggle to do it unless they are prepared to accept principles need to be held in context. i.e. If they dispense with dogma and develop a philosophical foundation for their values. Sadly, this is going to be a problem.
12. Limit the involvement of central and local government to those areas where collective action is a practical necessity.
Ouch! This is such an open-ended proposition; its kind of scarier that it occurs at the end of their principles. i.e. Its kind of like the 'asterisk' directing you to the fine print. This signals to be a complete preparedness to abrogate principles (because of their anti-intellectualism) and to succumb to the mindless 'compromise'. That is the reason why Christians are so immoral. They can't intellectually defend their position, so they end up caving in. Bad news!
Oh well, I held high hopes for ACT. I might just have to establish my own party. That is a hard strategy for me to accept because I know that the political system is based on extortion. Should I sanction it by engaging in it? Or do I become a revolutionary in some sense, undermining the credibility of the major parties?
Let's move on to the next party - National Party of NZ