The Point of Order Trough Monitor has alerted us not to the latest bucket of government handouts (seasonally gift-wrapped) but to an observation from American economist Thomas Sowell which mentions both government grants and Santa Claus in a few pithy sentences.
We were tempted to draw Shane Jones’ attention to Sowell’s observation but – hey – it’s Christmas. And why pick on him for special mention?
All ministers have some say in the redistribution of the billions of dollars collected by the Inland Revenue Department.
And we note that Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare yesterday confirmed an extra $50,000 to assist the Whakatāne community with immediate needs following the eruption of Whakaari White Island.
The contribution will be made to the Whakatāne District Council Mayoral Relief Fund and follows an earlier Government contribution of $50,000 to the fund.
Henare didn’t mention the Government’s recent approval of a $5 million fund to help small businesses in Whakatane following the White Island eruption and to support those affected by the recent flooding in Westland.
“Our focus since the eruption has been on supporting those affected by this tragic event,” Minister Henare said.
“There have also been flow on effects for the Whakatāne community, and in particular local iwi, who are shouldering the costs associated with undertaking cultural protocols, and caring for family and whanau of the deceased who have travelled to the region in the last week.”
These cultural protocols include the declaration of a rahui around the Bay of Plenty coast which is nobbling business turnovers (as Stuff reports):
A cultural restriction placed on the ocean surrounding Whakaari/White Island is taking a toll on businesses.
Diveworks Charters has shut up shop and cancelled all its bookings due to the rāhui that restricts access to the Eastern Bay coastline.
The fishing, diving and tour company is one of many businesses impacted by events since the eruption of Whakaari/White Island last Monday.
But back to Thomas Sowell: Ele Ludemann, on her Homepaddock blog, reminded us of his line of thinking when she posted one of his quotes.
“Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.”
We are tempted to bring this to the attention of a burgeoning number of government agencies which no longer treat everyone the same.
Amazingly (and disappointingly) this includes the Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, who has established a panel of Maori advisers comprising “prominent experts and rangatahi leaders”.
This panel, he says,
“ .. conveys our role as a watchtower ensuring fairness for all, particularly Māori.”
This suggests he has revised the Ombudsman’s mission as it is explained on his office’s website:
We focus on fairness for all. We are independent and impartial.
Don Brash, at Hobson’s Pledge, should appreciate the Sowell quote. He was barred from speaking at Massey University last year but early this year was invited by Te Tii Marae’ to speak at Waitangi.
Interviewed about the ban, he contrasted their willingness to hear different views with the attitude of some universities in the country, “which have been a good deal less welcoming to views they don’t agree with.”
He also said accusations that he or Hobson’s Pledge was “racist” was “bizarre”.
“What I believe in, very strongly, is that all New Zealanders, irrespective of their ethnicity, irrespective of when they came or their ancestors came to New Zealand, should have the same political rights.”
The quote which Ludemann posted on Homepaddock had attracted plenty of comments when we checked Sowell’s Twittter site.
Among them was a reference to another of Sowell’s observation:
“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today.”
But it was Sowell’s observation about Santa Claus politicians that inspired this Christmas Eve post here at Point of Order. He wrote:
“The big question that seldom— if ever— gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
“So long as most people do not look beyond superficial appearances, politicians can get away with playing Santa Claus on all sorts of issues, while leaving havoc in their wake— such as growing unemployment, despite all the jobs being ‘created.’”
Wikipedia describes Sowell as an American economist and social theorist who is currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. It says:
As Santa flies around the world in his heavily laden sleigh, generously distributing goodies, can we regard him as a supply-sider too? Or simply as a supplier?