Light-handed regulation – ‘disaster!’

The Editor, The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland
9 September, 2013

Dear Editor:

“Light-handed regulation has, in short, been an unmitigated disaster,” Colin Espiner says (Unfortunate Experiment). True. Espiner sites Pike River, Fonterra, and finance company failures. He could have included the financial crises of 2008 in USA as the biggest catastrophic result from deregulation whereby the richest financiers were able to make a killing.

This ‘small government’, ‘invisible hand market’ theory has long been the goal of conservative political parties like ACT and National in New Zealand and became so fashionable that even a supposedly leftish Labour government adopted it in 1984. Those who predicted the inevitable disasters we see today, and there were those who did, were vilified or ignored. Though perhaps not seeming so ‘fashionable’ now after these disasters, the same market ideology is being vigorously pursued by the current National government, concentrating on a few goals: the sale of public assets such as the power companies, the privatization of education through charter schools to weaken or destroy the influence of the education unions, and the gutting of the Resource Management Act.

Telling it the way it is in a straight forward manner such as Espiner has done can be a cathartic experience opening the mind to new visions of positive change. So is the electorate ready to reject disgraced market theory now? No. National will surely receive the most votes in the next election. What is the explanation? Visions of a new sustainable, more human, culture are available but too scary for the electorate because of the amount of change required away from our consumer society. Being able to describe pure market theory as a ‘disaster’ is a good start but it will likely take another global event or three to focus the electorate’s consciousness onto real change.


Richard Keller

published 15/09/2013


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