Monday, 7 May 2012


Rodney Hide writes in the Herald on Sunday in his inaugural piece last Sunday:
My history is as a centre-right politician. But I have no desire now in persuading you to vote this way or that. I have done that for years. I also have no desire to bag one political party over another. There's enough of that already.
Besides, my particular political philosophy was always too radical even for the Act Party.
I started in Parliament a libertarian. That means I wanted government nice and small and confined to just a few keys tasks such as protecting us from the thugs and bullies.
I ended up an anarchist. I have concluded we would do better with no government at all. New Zealand before 1840 had some downsides. But the downsides were small beer compared to the social and economic devastation wrought by big, bloated and out-of-control bureaucracy.
I reckon we could fix the down sides of no government without having to give a small bunch of people enormous power over the rest of us. I have no doubt I was the first Anarcho Government Minister. It is a great contradiction.
I am out of step politically. I know of only two New Zealanders who agree with my political philosophy and one of them is wobbly.
I'm only an anarchist 3 days out of 7, so I'm not sure whether I make the wobbly line.*

Hide's proudest achievement?
I am proud of what I got done. The best for me was sorting out Auckland's governance. Auckland now has one mayor and one council to provide the vision and the leadership the city and region badly needed. Len Brown and his team are doing a good job.
I wonder whether in a future column Rodney will reconcile anarchism and Tiebout competition with city amalgamations. I'd assumed that the Auckland Supercity project was one he'd been handed rather than one that he'd wanted and that he'd taken it mostly to raise ACT's Auckland profile and to demonstrate competence over a complicated project.

I don't live in Auckland, but mergers elsewhere have tended to result in ratcheting up of tax rates and expenditures to match those that obtained in the higher-spending prior urban units rather than in great administrative efficiencies yielding better services or lower rates, though that may be a function of more pernicious union rules in places like Winnipeg circa 1971.

Hide's second column, a defence of Kim DotCom and an excoriation of Key's handling of the American-demanded prosecution, is a barn-burner.

Our Government should have stood up for Dotcom as a New Zealand resident and simply told the US Government to prove it. Dotcom would still be in business and other digital entrepreneurs would be attracted to New Zealand for the lifestyle and for a government that sticks up for its people.
New Zealand can't build a new economy defending old technology and old business models. We could do well to become a safe haven for the new entrepreneurs.

Hear hear.

* The other four, I worry the risks of winding up with bad anarchy are too high given the costs of that outcome. And, there are illiberal anarchies even where market-chosen law doesn't degenerate to Mafia, Inc.


  1. All we wanted him to do was be like this as leader and if he had he might still have been leader, but he felt a responsibility to prop up National.

    Not much point having an AnCap politician if they're not going to act on it.

    1. MPs have to act within constraints. It's not crazy to think you can get better long-term results by supporting a few bad policies. And, it's a judgment call whether "reliable right-wing rump to National" or "liberal party happy to go into alliance with National on economics or Labour on social issues" is the better strategy for long term policy influence. I was a strong promoter of the latter from my comfortable armchair; Hide, who had to make the call, liked the former. I think he reckoned that the regulatory reform bill would have enough awesomeness to cover the policy costs he had to pay on other margins.

    2. Sadly I think Hide's hands were tied on this one. As Eric so rightly pointed out he had to make a judgement call on which of the big parties to support. I doubt either of the big two would be especially interested in a true libertarian agenda, they have too much of a vested interest in keeping government big, so he opted to attempt to influence National economic policy rather than Labour social policy. Personally I think he made the wrong call, I'd rather he'd pushed the social libertarian message a little more strongly and railed more against nanny-statism. Curiously I suspect that despite the bad blood between the two camps Hide and Brash share similar libertarian leanings and could have effectively promoted the libertarian agenda if they'd been able to work together. Unfortunately Banks does not, you'd never see him advocating for a public debate on cannabis decriminalisation for example.

    3. @Lats: It's less that he had to choose between National and Labour, as there was no chance of a Labour govt anyway.

      There were two broad strategies open. Commit to being a reliable partner for National, and possibly be given more concessions under National if National wanted to blame ACT for economically liberal but politically unpalatable policies, or keep options open for going with either party in some future election. I tend to think the latter gives you more bargaining power, but I'm an armchair quarterback here.

    4. @Eric Sorry, I didn't make this particularly clear, but I was thinking more of the strategic message he was sending to the big parties. Yes agreed at the last election the likelihood of a Labour-led govt was extremely low, but the ACT position even before Hide was ousted was always that it was going to be propping up the Nats. I didn't hear any discussions suggesting that ACT would consider courting the left, which I think is a shame because a true libertarian party could work happily with either the Nats or Labour, and could force some small but significant concessions to social policy. Sadly I think Hide and Brash were in the clear minority in their own party. I agree with you on the relative bargaining power of the two strategies.