Kiwi Conservatism

At least one country is responding to the financial crisis by moving to the right, not the left. New Zealand voters have just ousted the longstanding Labor regime and elected a government led by the conservative National Party; the free-market ACT party will be part of the governing coalition. Which is not to say the new administration will always pursue pro-market policies. The London Times reports that Prime Minister-elect John Key, a wealthy former currency trader, is "expected to implement tax cuts and extra spending." A Bushian/Keynesian combination.

I was tickled at how the Times explained the concept of "New Zealand" to its readers:

John Key’s conservative National Party easily won power in New Zelaland, known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the “Lord of the Rings" movies.

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  • ||

    John Key's conservative National Party easily won power in New Zelaland, known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.



    And extremely attractive women. And sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. Truly a wonderful part of the world. Rams and ewes everytwhere. When reminiscing my travels, New Zealand always ranks in the top three. Depending on my mood they're sometimes #1.

    And they have many, many ovine livestock.

  • ||

    This is not good news. My wife and I, having visited the country recently, intend to return and spend a good 2 years there working and hopefully integrating into what has hitherto appeared to be a tolerant internationalist culture. Despite its various faults, a left leaning coalition has always been one of the main attractions of NZ for us.

  • JCoke||

    I hope to someday go to zelaland.

  • ||

    I'd once like to see a leader cut taxes and spending,just once.

  • Mike Laursen||

    A Bushian/Keynesian combination.

    They're copying that combination because it's been shown to work so well here?

  • BDB||

    Weird that most of the world is moving rightward, and we're moving leftward.

  • Franklin Harris||

    But mainly it's all about the sheep.

  • ||

    One of the local ladies took me to the very nice botanical gardens in Wellington.

    BTW, they have shitloads of sheep in that country.

  • ||

    Yeah, there's a lot of happy National party fans here today. As a temporary resident here (for about 10 months now), this isn't really a huge ideological shift. National played to the centre in the campaign, and there's huge worry here about the financial meltdown worldwide as this is an export-and-tourism heavy economy. As an American, I'm stunned by the regulations they do have (especially employment related) and both parties have pledged to expand assistance if the economy falters further.

    And the sheep are being relentlessly replaced by dairy cattle.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Oh, yeah, and it's just there for the taking.

  • Franklin Harris||

    And the sheep are being relentlessly replaced by dairy cattle.



    It's New Zealand's idea of a military buildup to defend against the pending invasion from Australia.

  • ||

    new Zealand can afford a socialist/environmentalist state. That's because they don't have a military. They don't need one. They know if anyone attacks that the US, Australia, and a host of others will come to their rescue. It's the same reason Europe can afford its nannyist policies. Do you really think Denmark would be a leftist paradise if it had to maintain an army strong enough to keep Germany at bay?

  • alan||

    John Key's conservative National Party easily won power in New Zelaland, known internationally for the pivotal roll the nation played in the plot development of Heinlein's novel Friday.

    Better!

  • ||

    new Zealand [sic] can afford a socialist/environmentalist state. That's because they don't have a military. ...

    Welcome to the ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy
    It's not a big country, population: 4,115,771 (July 2007 est.), but I found their Navy to be very professional when I went to sea with them for a week so many years ago. Unlike the US, the Kiwi's are not dry afloat.

    Did I mention the sheep population of 43.1 million, down from 70.3 million in 1982?

    Lefiti would be very happy (sexually) there.

  • ed||

    Despite its various faults, a left leaning coalition has always been one of the main attractions of NZ for us

    There's always Canada, Rainer.

  • Kiwi Leftist||

    That does it! I'm moving to the USA!

  • ||

    Y'know that's approximately ten sheep per human. A whole friggin' lot of sheep.

  • PFJ||

    The other party only got votes from Emily Fitzpatrick, Claire Fitzpatrick, and Sarah Fitzpatrick. At least it was triple digits.

  • anarch||

    one country is responding to the financial crisis by moving to the right, not the left


    Just a quick cavil.

    It's da gummint, and no country (that it professes to represent) what's ever moving this- and thataway. As in I and the likes of me am the country and have not moving nowheres. As in I love my country. As in I live in this beautiful country. As in that which can bring forth tears of tender affection vs. tears of rage.

  • ||

    Any country that contains the SheepWorld Farm & Nature Park is A-OK in my book.

  • Deus ex Machina||

    There's always Canada, Rainer.



    wrong.

    Incidentally, New Zealand ranks 3rd on Economic Freedom of the World reports, 2 points higher than the US.

  • ||

    When a tourist coach passed through a small country town in New Zealand one of the passengers noticed a sheep tied to a lamppost on the corner in the main street and asked what it was doing there.

    "Oh that," said the guide, "that's the Recreation Centre"

  • ||

    hopefully integrating into what has hitherto appeared to be a tolerant internationalist culture. Despite its various faults, a left leaning coalition has always been one of the main attractions of NZ for us.

    WTF? So, you have to have a left coalition in government for a tolerant, internationalist culture?

    Good Lord. Some people just live in their own cocoons.

  • ||

    "That's because they don't have a military. They don't need one. They know if anyone attacks that the US, Australia, and a host of others will come to their rescue."

    And here's me thinking New Zealanders had fought and died alongside Americans in WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan! Then again, what do I know - I'm only a New Zealander!

    What kind of 'military' do you expect a country of only 4 million people to have???

  • Boston||

    New Zealand is a nice country, I'm a bigger fan of
    Lew Zealand
    though.

  • Boston||

    Shit. That is to say, New Zealand is a nice country, I'm a bigger fan of
    Lew Zealand
    though.

  • Becoming cautious||

    Will that be worth clicking on again?

  • ||

    Rainer: So you think "left-leaning" always means "tolerant," huh? That's not always the case in San Francisco.

    And don't forget the "Rogernomics" of '84-'90, when the NZ Labor government cut tariffs and subsidies and made many other free-market reforms.

  • Joel||

    What kind of 'military' do you expect a country of only 4 million people to have???

    If I were arranging it, four million people. They'd never go fight anybody else's battles, but god help anyone who came to pick a fight with them.

    Or molest their sheep.

  • ||

    "If I were arranging it, four million people."

    Fair enough, but if New Zealand were ever attacked there would be four million New Zealanders ready to die for their country.

    And I think our 'comfort sheep' would be very popular with any invaders!

  • ||

    Yeah, the Kiwis kicked some serious ass in the world wars - they had a reputation for being extremely reliable and solid.

    Also, we need more sheep-fucking jokes.

  • ||

    Why don't New Zealanders count sheep at night?

    Because they want to sleep, not have wet dreams!

  • ||

    One other point about our friends and allies, the Kiwis. The Maoris were, all things being relative, some bad motherfuckers for an indigenous people. Stealing their land was no friggin' picnic.

  • ||

    New Zealand also eliminated most farm subsidies a few years ago. As a result, they now have some of the most efficient and well run agriculture in the world.

  • Freeper||

    Are the sheep friendly?

  • ||

    To hear the geologists tell it, New Zealand was separated from California hundreds of millions of years ago. When I visited NZ for a few weeks some decades ago (pretty much yesterday, geologic time), it reminded me of how California had seemed during my childhood (except you got to the San Diego-like semi-tropics by heading NORTH, and people drove on the left side of the road). The "family resemblance" was amazing.

    I also recall that the women were very fetching. And I was stalled in traffic on numerous occasions due to road-crossings of thousands of sheep.

    The two things I remember most fondly were strong tea for breakfast, "creamed" with whole-milk-from-bottles that was delivered fresh every morning, and ducking into a bar on a rainy weekend day in Wellington, where my companion and I encountered a surprisingly good band, whose members were happy to play several of our favorite tunes. Everywhere we went, we found great people (who were surprised that we were real Californians -- too "normal" I guess).

    The trip to NZ was, with no exceptions, the best time I ever spent outside the US, and better than most of my vacations WITHIN the US. I'd go back in a heartbeat. If the US becomes too much more socialistic, I may just do it.

  • ||

    This is not good news. My wife and I, having visited the country recently, intend to return and spend a good 2 years there working and hopefully integrating into what has hitherto appeared to be a tolerant internationalist culture. Despite its various faults, a left leaning coalition has always been one of the main attractions of NZ for us.

    I hear your pain. But if you go now for a few months, I don't think the concentration camps and summary executions will have started. Reeducation will probably not be in full swing until around April.

    But seriously now, the new Prime Minister grew up in a government-supplied shack with a single parent and dragged himself out of poverty due to his own wiles. I think he is focussed on individual potential rather than intolerance.

    And as was commented above, the current atmosphere you find in New Zealand was built up by the policies of a "left-leaning" government that reduced subsidies, tariffs, regulations of all kinds. Not the lefties in power today.

    PS the military situation there isn't a result of the New Zealanders being pacifists who turn the other cheek. It is I would argue a rational response to a total lack of any credible large-scale threat. They could defend their harbours if need be but don't see a need to send vast numbers of soldiers across the world to fight other peoples' wars (most of the time anyway). Not such a bad idea.

  • Bingo||

    Oh my god, J sub D you are too fucking funny.

    NZ and Oz both have a big benefit in being so far away from the less sane parts of the world. Also the fact that they don't go fucking around in other countries foreign affairs. The result seems to be a fairly healthy economy and happy populace, and (mostly) sane government.

  • Mad Max||

    "I was stalled in traffic on numerous occasions due to road-crossings of thousands of sheep."

    Why did the New Zealand sheep cross the road?

    They wanted to save themselves for marriage, so they were running away from the farmers.

    Now look what you made me do.

  • Champ Grahman||

    Those ARE sheep, aren't they? Only, what are they doing up in the trees?

  • economist||

    I can think of far worse places than New Zealand to live. Like the Alabama, for instance.

  • the...||

  • ||

    Cutting taxes is not a Keynsian response. Keynes would spend borrowed or newly-inflated money on handouts.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I seem to recall that NZ abolished their farming subsidies over howls of protests some twenty years ago, and they've been doing quite well since.

    -jcr

  • ||

    New Zealand doesn't need an army. Lucy Lawless will defend it with her little round throw thingy.

  • economist||

    JCR,
    The point is that they are not cutting spending to match the tax cut, plus the tax cut is temporary, not permanent. These qualities make it Keynesian in spirit, if not necessarily in specifics.

  • economist||

    Concerning my 9:40 post:
    Should have just said "Alabama" not "the Alabama". I must be tired already.

  • Nasikabatrachus||

    John Key's conservative National Party easily won power in New Zelaland, known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

    Less well known is the fact that the LOTR movies exclusively used sheep actors. The role of Frodo was played by no less than twelve thousand sheep.

    Sign at the airport when you land in New Zealand: "Welcome to New Zealand. They shot a movie here once, don'cha know."

  • Nasikabatrachus||

    And yes, they do have Canadian/ North Dakotan mannerisms and accents in New Zealand. It's that kind of place.

  • anarch||

    A nation of sheep?

  • economist||

    I hear that New Zealand is nice, and does not have as high a concentration of dangerous and deadly critters as Australia.

  • economist||

    I would like to point out that a move to the "right" on economics is not always a libertarian move. What's "left" and what's "right" on economics varies from country to country.

  • economist||

    Uh-oh, I think I killed the thread.

  • Jesse Walker||

    John Randolph: Keynesians have long advocated both tax cuts and public spending as economic stimulus.

    Btw, I wrote a bit about the pro-market reforms passed by the New Zealand Labor Party last month. There's a bunch of nominally socialist parties that enacted market reforms in the '80s and '90s, but NZ's Laborites went the farthest. Unfortunately, the current version of the party is not as market-oriented as the NZLP of two decades ago.

  • ||

    Wow, I wish someone in the Bush Dictatorship would have been so bold in the early stages.

    Jess
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • ||

    I know how you feel economist. Some of us have that talent.

    Are there any countries that haven't moved right in Dubya's world? Japan, Germany, Canada(where universal childcare is a dead letter thanks to the Conservative's alternative child tax credit), France, NZ... Berlisconi's back in Italy isn't he? Spain went "socialist" after their conservative gov't claimed that Madrid was done by the Basques. Britain is muddy I guess although Labour is radioactive there right now. Australia went Labour and they're radioactive there too now, and after over a decade of Howard.

    I still remember how Japan's election was all about how they were going to reject the Bush-freindly government but then the Bush-friendlies won and it turned out that it was actually an arcane referendum on privatizing the postal service! Not that all of these parties are neccessarily sound conservatives, but the partisan ignorance of the liberal media is awesome to behold.

  • ||

    Hilarious to read what others have to say about our little country nestled quietly in the backwaters of the South Pacific.

    It is all very well having a socialist fantasy but you need to have a sound economic engine to fund it all. That's how our country operates. First we vote National to make money and then we vote Labour to spend it. Some idiot forgot to change sides last election and it royally screwed us all for another three years. Big sigh of relief when we toggled properly in yesterday's election and got our rhythym back into its groove.

    So far none of the politicians have realised that we (the voters) are really the ones that govern the country. We can't have them messing with our finely balanced system so you're sworn to secrecy.

  • ed||

    We're too sincere in the U.S. to make your system work, Kiwi Vik.
    Americans who vote actually believe their politicians' lies.
    Soon I expect Obama's cabinet to start referring to him personally as Barack Muad'Dib.

  • Jerry||

    Interesting bit, ACT's Roger Douglas has been elected as well. Hopefully they will make him finance minister again.

  • GILMORE||

    economist | November 8, 2008, 10:57pm | #

    I would like to point out that a move to the "right" on economics is not always a libertarian move. What's "left" and what's "right" on economics varies from country to country.


    Fair point.

    I've been meaning to ask, and might have done so before and not noticed any reply, but do you (economist) actually work as an economist professionally, academically, or is it all in your mind?

    Just curious. I work at a bank* myself.

    (*one thats not taken any bailout money from any government so far, for whatever thats worth)

    MUAD'DIB!!

  • ||

    His name has become a killing word.

  • JC||

    Jesse it is sad that no one got your reference to Flight of the Conchords. Perhaps you should have mentioned the toothbrush fence.

  • Elemenope||

    His name has become a killing word.

    Where's the purists come to upbraid all those quoting the David Lynch movie with affection?

  • ||

    known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

    Hey, what about "The Piano"?

    New Zealand made great strides in the advancing of vastly overpraised, excruciatingly boring, surreal female-oriented drama, overlaid with the unmitigated horror of gratuitous semi-naked Harvey Keitel.

  • Lefiti||

    Will New Zealand become for Libertarians what Albania was for die-hard Maoists?

  • ||

    Will Lefit's mom be for me what a glory hole she is for everyone else?

  • wayaway||

    Australia went Labour and they're radioactive there too now, and after over a decade of Howard.

    If by radioactive you mean a larger lead in the polls now than their win in last November's election, then yes.

  • ||

    One final Kiwi note. While visiting NZ somebody to whom I'm forever grateful introduced me to a hilarious comic strip called Footrot Flats.

    My life is only better for that.

    Thank you, Murray Ball and Finn.

  • Lefiti||

    You know you hit a cord when idiots start attacking your mother.

  • ||

    "If by radioactive you mean a larger lead in the polls now than their win in last November's election, then yes."

    An exception! That was based on the last time I read Tim Blair's blog a month or two ago. He does have a certain partisan optimism I suppose.

  • ||

    * NZ Is three hours flying time from any other major land mass: Australia. Only one country has the military power even capable of getting here: the US. Not China, not Russia, only the USN 8& USAF. And if the US is going to invade or attack, well then we're fucked.

    * And as regards politics go - NZ's most "rightwing" party in parliament - ACT - is far, far to the left of Barrack Obama

  • ||

    I´m one of the many people hoping that New Zealand´s economy finally gets itself in order.

    Over here in Australia we have far, far too much of them and the reason is pretty basic : they can get paid twice as much to do the same work.

    So this election win will hopefully be beneficial for both countries.

  • ||

    Well, at least they speak English, oddly, but English.

  • ||

    New Zealand, known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

    Great Britain, known internationally for its royal family and as the backdrop to "Notting Hill".

  • ||

    If there supposed to have so many sheep, how come I never saw a one in LOTR?

  • ||

    known internationally for its pristine environment and as the backdrop to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.


    I dare say they are more well known for the All Blacks and their intimidation dance. At least by those who actually watch rugby.

  • ||

    This report is correct but misses a lot. ACT is not just free market but led by a libertarian, Rodney Hide. They are more libertarian than Bob Barr --not very hard to do admittedly. Act supported civil unions for gays, lower taxes, right to die legislation, less regulations, etc. They were one of the only parties to fight the ban on so-called "party drugs" and pushing for less government across the board. The idea that ACT is "far, far to the left of Barrack (sic) Obama", as one uninformed morno stated, is actually just stupid. It is libertarian.

    As for Rogernomics -- that is what is missed here. Act has 5 MPs from this election and one of them is Roger Douglas himself.

    The problem will be the conservatives who are now conserving Labour regulations. John Key, the new PM, has made it clear he doesn't want to abandon any Labour policies and that is why he is opposed to Roger Douglas having a ministerial seat. Act is a good party with a great leader. National is mediocre party led by an unprinicpled politician.

    Other good news was that the bigoted, socialistic New Zealand First party lost all their seats. And their smear-mongering leader is now out of office.

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