Point of Order’s attention was drawn to a post on The Standard headed Labour’s Ardern and Democrats’ Biden: Learnings.
Written under the pseudonym Advantage, the article kicks off:
For those fishing around for a progressive playbook in this fractious world, Biden and Ardern are pretty similar. But Biden appears to be turning the fortunes of the Democrats around, but Ardern is currently unrewarded. Is there anything to learn?
The author proceeds to check a few common fields, such as…
COVID 19 Action
Both Biden and Arden administrations successfully mobilised the largest free vaccination programme in the history of either New Zealand or the United States of America. Arguably the recalcitrance of Republican-controlled states and conservative media cost far more lives in the USA than any resistance in New Zealand. The Biden administration effort got over 75% of U.S. citizens fully vaccinated, and the New Zealand response and population-wide effect was even better.
Further comparisons are drawn under topics such as “guns” and “international leadership”.
Then the author looks into big divergences, including
The CHIPS and Science Act
President Biden signed this into law to accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. The policy focus is on bringing back manufacturing jobs from China to the United States and advance U.S.-led technological leadership. An equivalent for New Zealand would be to target key offshored manufacturing e.g., requiring Icebreaker, Fisher&Paykel Healthcare, Fonterra, and Fletcher Building to bring all their key ingredients and product lines and R&D back into New Zealand rather than being beholden to more fragile Chinese manufacturing and supply lines. One could only imagine the effect if they were required to as Biden has.
Ardern has been remarkably doctrinaire when it comes to industry protection and in-sourcing, and there’s plenty to learn as a very small and very narrow economy to vulnerability to China.
Point of Order looked in vain for something more when “science” was among the considerations.
In the US, the last time we checked, science is science is science.
In this country the Government is pouring millions of dollars into “science” education and projects that incorporate mātauranga Māori, which has a spiritual dimension.
Kiwiblog yesterday posted an article headed ACC funding lunar healing!
This was prompted by a Stuff report which noted:
A new programme designed to help Māori recover faster from injury is being piloted at the University of Auckland.
Kiwiblog’s David Farrar says he hopes the pilot will be independently evaluated.
The Stuff report went on:
Rongoā Māori is the name of a number of traditional Māori healthcare practices and remedies to cure ailments and injuries.
Passed down through generations of whānau and hapū, rongoā Māori involves physical, mental, and spiritual therapy.
Ngākau Oho includes online and in-person wānanga on rongoā Māori, including the use of medicinal native plants, romiromi (body alignment), maramataka (relationships to the lunar calendar) meditation and mahi tinana (body movement).
Farrar wants to know why Māori are being treated as second class citizens who get lunar healing foisted on them, rather than therapy that actually is proven to work?
It is quite possible that certain plants will have medicinal benefits. Meditation and body alignment and movement can be useful also. I have no issue with those.
But to have the Government funding injury recovery based on the lunar calendar is akin to them funding astrology as careers advice.
But back to The Standard and the article by Advantage.
The final item examined is…
All citizens like to think their government has a plan, and the first big one to come out of the Biden administration was simply the American Rescue Plan. This US$1.9 trillion rescue plan paid for the full vaccination programme, family debt relief with mailed cheques to most people, and a new child tax credit that led to the largest-ever one-year decrease in recorded U.S. child poverty.
The Ardern government has been renowned less for its plan for recovery per se than for Ardern’s own daily media briefings. It is s substitute of perpetual visibility for a durable plan. New Zealand’s government expenditure was as a proportion of GDP even greater than that of the United States, but the economic effects have been uneven with unemployment remaining low yet economic growth stagnating.
What hasn’t remained is a sense that the Ardern government is continuing to be guided by a plan, a plan with a visible public shape and direction.
The key differences with Biden’s broad and very bold plans are the focus on costed benefits to citizens, the focus on strong guidance of the whole economy, and translating the legislative and policy wins into fresh political momentum.
Progressives have similarities, but Biden has a performance edge Ardern can learn from.
Here at Point of Order we were bursting to point out a fundamental difference between Biden and Ardern that was not addressed in Advantage’s article.
No, neither the age nor gender of the two leaders.
The big difference is that Biden is a Democrat.
In contrast, Ardern’s Government has been unabashedly undermining our democracy and she resists efforts to have her declare her position on the basic principle that all citizens should have equal electoral rights.
On her watch, legislation has been passed to ensure some people are given preferential representation on a local authority by being exempted from the need to campaign for electoral support. Instead, they simply appoint their representatives.
Not one Labour MP expressed misgivings at this anti-democratic arrangement.
Having determined who must be represented on a public authority, regardless of voter support, the Government is working on a process for excluding people, without gauging voter support.
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti is seeking urgent advice about the conduct of school board elections, after a white supremacist, Philip Arps, announced he is standing for Te Aratai College’s board of trustees in Linwood, Christchurch.
Arps was sentenced to 21 months’ jail for sharing footage of the Christchurch terror attack. Tinetti wants guidance on the scope of a code of conduct that is being developed for school boards. She and her officials are also looking at eligibility.
If a government can distort the electoral process by barring one group of citizens from standing for office today, it can further distort it by barring other groups it deems unworthy from standing for office in the future.
Moreover, it is declaring parents unfit to decide for themselves who should sit on the boards that govern the schools attended by their children.
After the system for electing school boards has been doctored – who will be next?