Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our anti-democratic business community

The Herald has run its annual "mood of the boardroom" survey (business leaders being considered more important than the rest of us, so that special interest must be taken of their views), and revealed something interesting: our business leaders hate MMP:

A survey of the leaders showed nearly eight out of 10 large-company chief executives believed MMP stopped governments from implementing policies necessary for the country's success.


The Mood of the Boardroom survey showed that fewer than one in five CEOs thought MMP helped the country. Seventy-seven per cent wanted a referendum on MMP versus first past the post. A similar proportion would welcome MMP being put to the vote against other forms of proportional representation.

So, just to make this clear, the vast majority of New Zealand's business leadership believes that the defining metric by which the success of a constitutional system should be judged is whether it allows a small clique of ideologues to impose their demented vision on everybody else for the benefit of the rich - and they would rather live in an elective dictatorship than a democracy. "Anti-democratic and authoritarian" describes these views perfectly.

And OTOH, is it really any surprise, given that it was the same group (and indeed, many of the same people) who funded the anti-MMP campaign back in 1992? They realised then that democracy worked against their interests (which is one of the reasons people were so keen on it), and I'm sure they're gnashing their teeth at the "lost opportunity" of Don Brash being defeated by oponents who used the dirty trick of assembling majority support behind them.

Fortunately, after flirting with repeal under Brash (who favoured Supplementary Member for purely selfish reasons - he could never win an electorate), it seems that National has finally accepted that they will not be able to roll back democracy for the benefit of their rich mates. Bill English has declared that MMP is here to stay and that National will not hold a referendum to replace it. We should hold them to that position.


Unfortunately, the business community in this country is characterised by such reflexive and partisan tribalism. Our business "leaders" like to lecture everyone else about the need for for flexibility, yet their own thinking is stuck in a rigid 1980's timewarp. They come across as boneheaded and unimaginative economic dinosaurs.

Posted by Sanctuary : 5/30/2007 01:41:00 PM

I'd imagine that under FPP Brash would have been given a safe seat - he should have been able to win Port Waikato, Bay of Plenty or some such place?

Posted by Rich : 5/30/2007 01:41:00 PM

Although we can't automatically assume that votes cast under one system would have gone the same way under another, it is pretty clear that Labour in 1999 and 2002 would have had sizeable majorities under FPP. So essentially these people are wishing we'd had at least six years of genuinely left-leaning government.

People who argue for "strong, decisive government" always seem to imagine it would be making decisions they approve of.

Ooh, yeah, baby ... put those unions in charge, nationalise the banks, ban the Business Round Table, smash the polluters, oooh, baby, decisive, love it ...

Bloody MMP, eh?


Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 01:56:00 PM

"Business-leaders favour referendum!" does not equal "business leaders oppose democracy..."

Many people were apparently under the impression when they voted for MMP, that they would get another say - had some thought otherwise they might not have voted in favour.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/30/2007 01:57:00 PM

OECD ranking is 22nd - this means less money to spend on health, education and other areas.

But when we slip down to a third-world country you won't be so smug.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 02:37:00 PM

"The Herald has run its annual "mmod of the boardroom" survey (business leaders being considered more important than the rest of us,"

In this country there is a funny old thing called an economy and a taxation system. To pay for health and education, you must have tax. Business pays tax (a lot of it). without people wanting to risk their own money, there is no business. If you are so unhappy with the ethics of business in nz and roel it plays in society, why dont you elaborate on how north korea and other workers paradises have such great systems or hwo you will grow the economy and increase the tax intake???

You also seem to be in favour of reedom of expression (ie the solid energy protesters) but condemn businesses for expressing their own opinions

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 02:41:00 PM

It is fairly arrogant, isn't it...

"MMP stops governments from implementing policies necessary for the country's success"

In other words, those voters who are now well-represented under proportional representation are more ignorant about what is necessary for the country's success than those voters who had more-than-proportional representation under the unfair FPP system...

Or, the powerful and the intelligent are one and the same - with no proof offered. Good one

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 02:44:00 PM


"Business-leaders favour referendum!" does not equal "business leaders oppose democracy..."

Yes, it does!

77% want a referendum to potentially shift to FPP.

FPP is a less democratic voting system than MMP. (Do you dispute that?)

Therefore 77% of business leaders surveyed would like to have the chance to talk the population into replacing the current, more democratic, voting system with a less democratic version. That looks, sounds, and smells like opposing democracy...

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 02:53:00 PM

Anon1; I'd rather live in a poor democracy than a rich dictatorship (and I apply that to left as well as right-wing dicatorships; even if authoritarian communism made people better off, it would still be undesirable, precisely because it was undemocratic).

Anon2: In this country we also have a funny old thing called "one person, one vote". Unfortunately, our business community has never believed in it, instead believing that government should be limited to serving their interests rather than those of the population as a whole.

And I'm not condemning business for expressing their opinions - I'm snarking at the Herald for regarding the opinions of the handful of people surveyed as being more important and worthy of notice than those of the rest of us. Implicitly, they';re endorsing aristocracy, not democracy.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/30/2007 02:57:00 PM

Timocracy, rather than aristocracy.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 03:46:00 PM

Sadly, the Mood of the Boardroom also found that business leaders are largely sceptical of the IPCC's findings, with 72% yet to be convinced of the underlying science.

Wow. Just, wow.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 03:46:00 PM

I support MMP. However, FPP is not undemocratic. Opining that the citizens of a country should have a say in deciding the mechanism by which their representatives are elected isn't undemocratic either.

MMP is more proportionate than FPP, and that is one factor in weighing competing democracies. Another factor might include the ability to vote out of office those whom you don't want in office - and a closed-list MMP system is worse for that than FPP.

I/S - the business community doesn't believe in one person one vote? Odd for them to be proposing a referendum in which each person would be getting one vote then...

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/30/2007 03:54:00 PM

There's a subtle difference between democracy and majority rule. FPP supporters want the mainstream (Labour and National voters) to vote away my right to representation. That's the tyranny of the majority, but they'll try to sell it as democracy.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 04:33:00 PM

Actually it would "the tyranny of a plurality".
You don't often get majority governments under FPP.

Also, there aren't many wealthy dictatorships (apart from those with oil). Hong Kong is one, I suppose, but it's under the rule of professed communists. I can't think of any others.

Posted by Rich : 5/30/2007 04:50:00 PM

"Fortunately, after flirting with repeal under Brash (who favoured Supplementary Member for purely selfish reasons - he could never win an electorate)"

i am sure that brash woudl ahve cruised home in a safe seat where people vote on party lines. Just see how Brian Connell got home in Raikai or George hawkins/judith tizard keep on getting in despite their acheivements literally having no beginning.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 05:19:00 PM

I think the American and Chinese forms of government are converging, from communist dictatorship and thin democracy respectively, into capitalist oligarchy, where the top five percent keep the rest of the peasants in servitude and use the coercive power of the state to maintain their position. It's no surprise to me that our fat cats want to do the same here/

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 05:19:00 PM

A Brash/Round Table governnment would have benefitted a few entrenched corporates and stifled local entrepreneurialism. Telecom would have stayed as it was under the botched Douglas 'privatisaion', returning dividends to shareholders and putting the absolute minimum into infrastructure. With only limited broadband NZ would become a crony-capitalist banana state, with the flow-on benefits of technology available only to a shrinking and obscenely wealthy clique. The ACT rump would have endorsed this slide into the third world as protecting the sanctity of private property.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 07:07:00 PM

"converging" on serfdom. Or feudal capitalism, depending on how you want to describe the situation in China.

This is where I might start sounding like an NRA wingnut, but an important part of feudalism was stopping the peasants from having weapons. The Japanese were quite vicious about it, but even those nice, mild-mannered Englishmen were not above a bit of "hung drawn and quartered" rather than plain old hanging for peasants with prohibited weapons.

Posted by Moz : 5/30/2007 07:51:00 PM

NZ pre MMP was not undemocratic and it would not be undemocratic if MMP was abolished. Let us remember that MMP is basically the Greenazis telling us we need this system because it's impossible for a greenazi to get elected to Parliament otherwise.

The same comes from STV which the greenazis have forced in local goverment elections. A whole lot more work and effort for no measureable gain.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 12:15:00 AM

IS says "In this country we also have a funny old thing called "one person, one vote". Unfortunately, our business community has never believed in it,"

What an absolute load of crap. Opposition to MMP has no connection with the above. Nor is there any record of the business community opposing the electoral system in NZ.

Have you noticed that MMP is one person, two votes by any chance.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 12:18:00 AM

"it was the same group (and indeed, many of the same people) who funded the anti-MMP campaign back in 1992? They realised then that democracy worked against their interests"

They opposed MMP not democracy
NZ had democracy under FPP.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 12:21:00 AM

The funny thing is under FPP I can remember the natianals being the govt yet they had recieved less votes than the other lot.

......... and that classifys as democracy ???.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 10:36:00 AM

The business folk have sen two successive vehicles for their iseological goals run aground on voter antipathy to them. First ACT shrivelled, so they engineered Don Brash into the Nat leadership and hoped to capture the National party and the next government. That failed when Labour hung on in 2005.....and now John Key is proving to be more please voters.

S now they are attacking the voting system itself.....No other option as voters won't support their extremism through the ballot box and these business paraons can't be arsed persuading anyone as to the merit of their ideas.....

Posted by Steve Withers : 5/31/2007 12:55:00 PM

NZ had democracy under FPP

We had a democracy prior to 1893 as well. Calling it a democracy doesn't make it perfect.

One of the more interesting historical threads in the West has been the fight between the elite (in this context the BRT is no better or worse than some sort of pre-1649 aristocracy) and the hoi polloi over representative government. Elites by their nature want to concentrate power in their own hands, while the people (for want of a better phrase) have fought to take it off them. At least when we ditched MMP we didn't need to take someones head off at the same time :)

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 01:54:00 PM