Read about Seymour

gregster's picture
Submitted by gregster on Tue, 2021-10-05 10:16

I was surprised to hear a politician offering his opinion on the non-thinking that pervades and perverts statists. He identifies a "form of postmodernism" and subjectivism as root errors. He is correct. Unfortunately he also comes across, publicly, as a cheerleader for democracy. This is transcribed from the Leighton Smith podcast #128 of September 15th, 2021. I believe it's worth sharing.

David Seymour: What is central to all of these Western democratic states is that they fundamentally haven’t delivered what they promised. So if you go back to Savage and Fraser in the thirties and try to explain to them that New Zealand now has a third of GDP spent by government, three times what they spent. And then you explain that not only is it a third of GDP but actually we’re four or five times richer overall. So in other words the government is now spending three times as much of a pie that is five times bigger – that’s fifteen times more money spent on the welfare state. And what’s been the net effect? Well, people who would have been OK anyway are still doing well. You know, I represent the Epsom electorate. If the government of New Zealand magically disappeared I’m pretty sure the Epsom people would raise some money and put together schools, educate their kids then teach them how to invest in the share market. It’s the people who really need the help who actually need an effective welfare state who aren’t getting it. And so you might say that in total all of this expenditure has made no difference. The people who would have been OK are, and the people that needed the help haven’t really got it. And that’s the true sadness of the state and that’s why I’m always in favour of reducing the size of government and giving people more control over how government expenditure is spent such as student education accounts where we would basically give you an account like Kiwisaver and let you choose where your kids share of the education fund goes.

Leighton Smith: And why hasn’t that had lift-off?

DS: I think it’s because of.. and there’s a good thinker on this – Mancur Olson – talks about the logic of collective action and why politics allows the small groups to dominate the large groups. If you look at charter schools, that was a policy that was working and we’ve subsequently had data to show that they were phenomenally effective for disadvantaged students. That’s from actually tracking those students. Even years after they left charter schools they continued to over-perform what were their expectations. So that was a policy that worked. It wasn’t big, it was twelve small schools. It was helping overwhelmingly poor kids and Maori and Pacific kids. The kids that you would think this government would want to help. The Labour government shut those schools down one day and reopened them the next with two changes. One; they had to use union contracts, and two; they no longer had to do attendance and achievement on a contractual basis, it was just whatever happens.

LS: Hahaha. I’m sorry to laugh because I know it’s true but to hear it said again is hilarious.

DS: Well, that’s what happened. This is the government that puts children at the centre of everything and celebrates kindness. In answer to your question of why hasn’t this stuff happened. Because the teacher unions, not the teachers. Teachers should all be sainted, or most of them anyway. The unions whose fundamental business is to make money out of union fees for which they negotiate one contract or at least a small number of contracts that are very rigid and give guaranteed terms to their members. Those unions knew that if charter schools took off then their business wouldn’t be required because you’d have sixty thousand teachers with sixty thousand individual contracts and no need for the PPTA of the NZEI. So they did everything they could. We estimated they must have had one or two people working full time trying to undermine twelve small schools for mostly poor brown kids who never got a chance. That is concentrated benefits for them and disbursed costs for the rest of society. And that’s one of Mancur Olson’s great observations on the logic of collective action in that small groups that are better organised can tip over the common interest. And that’s another reason why democracy's great for getting rid of bad rulers and that’s why I’ll always be a democrat - I want to protect my civil liberties. But as a way of deciding how to spend a fifteen billion dollar education budget it’s disastrous because it gets hijacked by the people we pay to provide the service, at the cost of the people we're paying to provide it to.

LS: While this is readdressing stuff that's been around for a while, how did the teachers unions get so much power? And why can't they be decapitated?

DS: Well, I think it's a couple of things. One is that they are in an institution that lends itself to that kind of organisation. It's a big network of people and they are people that are all doing a similar job, partly because the union contracts make it that way, and they are people who are given to political action. If you want to change the world, you're probably not going to sign up to be a mechanic. If you want to change the world, you are what the Centre for Independent Studies, the great Sydney based think tank, once called the opinionators. You become a teacher, you become a journalist, you become an academic, you become someone who's in a position to try and opine and influence others. So you've got an opinionator class, you've got a large network of people, and you've got a very good resource for campaigning and political organizing and influencing other people.

And then you put on top of that a union structure, and you've got everything you need for a political action outfit that is formidable. And yet, I think it's absolutely critical that, I'm not into decapitating people, but it's absolutely critical that the decision-making power in education is returned to parents. Because right now, it's not just the union organisers that are the problem, it's also the administrative education. They've taken on 900 extra staff in the last four years, and so far as I can tell, they are using your kids, or people's kids, as fodder for a political project, rather than actually equipping them to have the skills to navigate the 21st century.

LS: Well, seeing you've taken us down that road, let's stay on it for a moment. There was an article I saw within the last couple of days with regard to, or a number of groups, small in number that are basically dictating matters like critical race theory. And I don't know about you, but it certainly exists in America, it certainly exists in Australia, and I believe that it's been introduced here. To what level, what volume, I'm unsure. But I know quite certainly that it does, because I get feedback. So, why does that get a footing? And why is it that parents who object to it don't seem to make a lot of progress?

DS: Well, I used to think if we could just get 61 seats in the New Zealand parliament then we would have the power to do useful things and put in place policies that would really open up opportunity for people to make a difference in their own lives. I still believe that parliament is absolutely essential. It's one of the very important institutions in New Zealand's overall politics, but note I say one of. What's going on at the moment is pervading the judiciary, the academy, the media, the civil service, and a lot of the education establishments outside of the two universities.

And when I say what's going on, I mean, this idea of a metastasized form of postmodernism, where there is no truth. And this goes back to Foucault in the sixties, everybody has their own truth and the value of your opinion, that is not something that can be openly debated objectively amongst all humans. The value of your opinion comes down to your identity. And specifically, if you are deemed to be an oppressed identity, then your opinion carries more weight. And this is so destructive, because it means we're obsessed with what we used to call prejudice. We've become obsessed with judging people based on their race or their gender or their sexuality. I mean, I thought the whole process about the whole liberal movement was to stop that sort of judgment.

LS: It was.

DS: Now, it's become critical. And you have to say as a white man, or as a black woman, or whatever, before you can have an opinion. And then, it means that not only are we obsessed with identity, but we've lost the ability to have a conversation across our common humanity. And so, you question, why is it so difficult for people? What I think is critical to understand is that what's happening is based on deep philosophical roots, it's a 50 year intellectual evolution. And often, if you're trying to talk to people, they're not even speaking your language, they don't even think that there is a truth we can work towards. They believe that your identity matters more. And that actually, if you are trying to impose a particular view or argue for a particular view, you're not trying to debate the fact, what you're trying to do is oppose a construct that's been set up to perpetuate oppression. I mean, they really believe this. And it makes it so difficult to make progress in science and society just about anywhere, because these people don't want to talk to you.

Leighton Smith: I'm not sure that I know another New Zealand politician who could outline things so succinctly as you just did with the pause for consideration of the fact that most people listening to this now will understand what you're saying. But there is a vast number of people, and I'm not being discriminatory, I'm being factual. There are a vast number of people in the country who wouldn't have a clue what you just said. In other words, you're not reaching them. Do you have another alternative for that?

David Seymour: Well look, my job is to be a representative, to hear people's concerns and reflect back solutions that they can support. So if I'm on the Leighton Smith podcast, and I know people are interested in what's happening with the epistemology, which happens to be something I studied, then I'm really happy to talk about that. But equally, I also get into conversations with people about what's happening with taxes for landlords. Now, they may not be interested in epistemology, and I don't blame them. But I talk about what's important to them. What's critical in that is that I like to claim, and I think I can claim, that I have a consistent, integrated, philosophical base about what a person's rights should be and what the role of the government should be. You just talking about what's important to people at the time, that's the job of a representative.

"There's no political benefit

PhilipD's picture

"There's no political benefit in appealing to that group of people outside Parliament."
~David Seymour 10/02/22

NZ needs a major overhaul to liberty - not Ardern's 'reset.'

Judi McFarland's picture

Businesses are in business to provide products and/or services (hopefully both if they're a good business which delivers quality products and with a smile). They are not (medical) facilities owned and directed by government statutes, and financed through funds expropriated from working citizens.

Business-owners therefore ought to be able to provide as safe as possible an operating environment, as they would normally do to attract and retain good employees and customers, and on a voluntary basis be open to give-and-take suggestions for improvement from whatever source. The business-owner ought to have the final determination as to cost/benefit of implementing any procedures that support and enhance the productive environment for workers and customers, as indeed they would if they were contemplating adding, for instance new equipment or machinery, or an automatic door. This is a normal every-day responsibility that a healthy business would undertake on an ongoing basis, and they do.

For a government to intervene and mandate non-negotiable procedures that require a business-owner to manage the medical practices of all his/her employees, and customers to boot, is entirely outside the realm of reason and sanity. Why should a business-owner be legislated the unpaid servant of government policies, any policies (including tax collections and enforcements) which infringe his rights, and indeed do not add any value to the business nor the business-owner's property, but cause substantive diversion from and cost to a business - a cost that gets passed on through price adjustments to customers, thus affecting the business's competitive status. Such government intervention is simply and entirely made for the convenience of the government to be able to bring force to bear at the point of a gun on a large portion of the population which has little recourse to refuse this abuse. It is nothing short of: "your money (compliance) or your life (livelihood).

There is nothing 'kind' about a government that utilizes coercion, and especially nothing 'kind' about Ardern's propensity to double-down over a manic hyped-up version of a pandemic, on this framework that further enslaves a disarmed population: business-owners who cannot afford to close their businesses in protest and/or to exert their right to exist, as well as the employees who cannot feed their kids without holding a job/income.

?Who, in their right mind, would tolerate such a society where government can cause enslavement, through control of private property and it's citizens. Government is instituted to serve citizens, not to control them, nor to be the moral arbiter of whim according to any high-profile popular celebrity or anyone else. New Zealand's system that allows for and has tolerated fascism of this degree, needs to be entirely overhauled, with a recognition and irrevocable institutionalized codification of Individual Rights, Property Rights, Citizen Rights. Nothing less is worth debating until this is a fact of our future.

Here's your pin-up Stasi Seymour

Lindsay Perigo's picture

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