Wednesday, January 07, 2004

ACT, redistribution, and racism

As mentioned below, the central plank of ACT's latest attack on Maori is that "tax paid should ideally equal the benefit received". Redistribution is not allowed. But there's some inconsistency there: ACT is quite happy for the government to provide police, prisons and defence, so it's clear that they accept some level of redistribution and cross-subsidies. How much, and for what? They talk about "core government services", but this is just code for "what the wealthy (who can afford private healthcare and schools, and don't need to worry about how they'll live when they can no longer work) need from government"; what anybody else might need or want from government is obviously unworthy of consideration.

But looking at their actual policies, they're not commited to that premise in anything more than a rhetorical sense (that "ideally" leaves a lot of wiggle room, I guess). In fact, I'm sure that ACT agrees with much of the redistributive spending on Maori (they certainly make a lot of noise about education; heaven forbid the thought that this was just a way of slagging off the current system so as to introduce vouchers and get the government to subsidise the rich sending their kids to private schools). But if we take out the stuff they do agree with - all that money for health and education - then what we're left with is the core claim that we spend too much money supporting Maori on welfare...

And this isn't about race-baiting, you say?