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RODNEY HIDE in conversation with BRYCE WILKINSON



Rodney Hide engages in a wide-ranging conversation with economist Dr Bryce Wilkinson about government (you and me) finances. Bryce reminds us that there are no 'free lunches' and refers to a recent article he wrote reproduced below. A Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, Bryce holds a PhD in economics from the University of Canterbury and was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University.


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MEMO TO HIPKINS: TAXPAYERS' MONEY IS NOT FREE


When I was a lad in the 1950s, I absorbed from adults the notion that it was shameful to be reduced to applying for a state handout. Self-reliance was virtuous. It respected others.

Reading the Prime Minister’s speech to his party faithful last week was a salutary lesson in how attitudes have changed. Today, making handouts more freely available is virtuous, self-reliance is in the past.

Hipkins’ speech extolled Labour’s litany of handouts. He mentioned paid parental leave, free school lunches, increased benefits, free subscriptions, free public transport, free early childhood education and much other spending and a raft of subsidies for this and that.

I counted over a dozen such spending items. Each might make sense if taxpayers’ money is free, but it is not free and the speech ignored the question of overall value-for-money.

When it comes to government handouts, what is free to the user invites waste.

To pick up a prescription medicine is one thing, to follow the prescribed treatment is another. Expect more unused pills in households’ medicine shelves.

As the late Milton Friedman famously quipped, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Price is one thing and cost is another. Someone must pay for the lunch because food is scarce.

When the ancient Romans subsidised bread, some fed it to pigs because the price was so low. Some of the wheat from conquered Egypt was wasted.

Taxpayers work long and hard to earn the income that is taxed. They go without worthwhile things to pay their taxes.

All governments should hold themselves responsible for ensuring that their spending provides commensurate value for taxpayers. Taxpayers are not geese to be plucked with a minimum amount of hissing.

Taxpayers are already paying vastly more in taxes than Labour told them to expect back in 2017. Under its electioneering fiscal plan, it proclaimed that its policies would only increase Total Crown tax revenue for the five years ended June 2022 by $10.2 billion. We now know the actual increase. It is $29.3 billion.

The full cost is much greater. That is because Labour’s planned five-year spending increase of $11.7 billion was much greater at $65.3 billion. The extra borrowing represents deferred taxation.

Take a bow Mr Hipkins.

Everyone is demeaned when governments hand out money as if it is free.



This article was published at The New Zealand Initiative





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28 Comments


Democracy is bound to fail when people discover that they can vote themselves unequal privileges, opportunities, public funds and other advantages as the expense of the rest of the people. Election campaigns are all about promises that cannot be kept and bribes that we think someone else will have to pay for. Pretending to do what was promised (and failing) and paying the bribes cost more than the productive working people could afford to provide so the people that call themselves "the government" kept borrowing more and more for the productive working people to service and repay in the future. According to the information on the trearury website, our communal debt is too great to be repaid so future generations will just have…

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ron
ron
Jun 19, 2023
Replying to

Same. Party vote ACT, reluctant electorate vote National. For this coming election nothing else makes sense for anybody that wants to live in a reasonably solvent democracy, one law, one vote for all. The rest is noise in comparison.

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So you want GE organisms released into the environment without satisfactory testing, and you also want compulsory "vaccination" with untested medical GE therapy, and you also claim the Covid "vaccine" was perfectly safe, but you don't know who to vote for.

I have the answer for you :-

https://thebfd.co.nz/2023/05/12/fact-checking-david-seymours-claim/

ACT is your party , and you can have it.

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Replying to

Thanks.

Unfortunately, we have to have a goverrnment and it should be by people that respect and responsibly represent us instead of forcing us to agree with and do what they decide is "for our own good". There are only 2 things we can do to help achieve the sort of government we desire. 1. We can join a successful political party and become one of the minority of people who have some influence on the party policies and selection of candidates and list MPs whom might be part of the government.

2. We can support and vote for the local candidate and party we think might be the better or least worst choice. Voting is our only opportunity to hire people that…

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mike.lowe
mike.lowe
Jun 18, 2023

It seems that the ignorant amongst us are very slowly waking up to the traitorous actions of the present incompetents. Whilst I understand the doubts of so many about the Nats and their wimpish ‘leader’, I trust ACT to join them and keep their more ridiculous policies under control. We just MUST get rid of this Labour/Greens/Maori lot with their outrageous vote-buying practices!

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It appeared to me that ACT has been the only opposition for the past 6 years. I kept wondering what was wrong with the National Party representatives. Were they just incompetent as an opposition or basically the same as Labour and the Greens?

I used to regard ACT as "national in drag" but that seems to have changed and they are more like the conscience of national because that party has lost its way. I doubt that Mr. Seymour and the other "deciders" in ACT will throw us under the bus like Mr. Peters did in 2017. ACT cannot be a significant influence at all unless enough people vote for them.


Devoted Labour, Green and Maori voters will not change their habits. National is unlikely…

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Mark Laslett
Mark Laslett
Jun 17, 2023

TANSTAAFL "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" was a slogan we adopted in 1974 - bumper stickers & the like. I believe it came from Robert Heilein's book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" - excellent book with a strong liberal & libertarian flavour. Friedman did say similar things though

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peterglewis
peterglewis
Jun 17, 2023

Can we not see that New Zealand has a full blown Communist government whose aim is to have the population totally dependant on central government who will then issue to the citizens their needs as they arise and that will depend upon their conformity to the totalitarian doctrines of the State. PGL

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Replying to

Seeing what is wrong is easy and so is complaining. Correcting what is wrong is not so easy but can be done if enough people accept the responsibility to do what must be done.

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