Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taskforce, Taskforce everywhere; but not a drop of sense

It was with considerable bemusement that I saw a "Capital Markets Development Taskforce" had issued its final report this morning, calling for (you guessed it) further privatisations.

This prompted three questions in my mind:

i) Why do we have such a profusion of task-forces (especially when they seem to generate suspiciously similar recommendations)?

ii) What has the cost to the taxpayer been to employ these ivory tower crystal ball-gazers for the last eighteen months?

iii) If we were serious about generating *good* ideas for developing our economy, might we not be better off asking *small* business owners, workers, students etc. (in other words, the very-real New Zealanders that'll be most effected by any taskforce's recommendations) what they reckon?

Call me cynical, but I believe that this succession of "reports" has two purposes. First, to provide a coterie of "expert" oppinion to draw upon as justification for the 2011 revelation of National's privatisation agenda. This is fairly obvious; the panels having obviously been set up to generate a pre-determined oppinion (one only needs to look at the chairman of the 2025 taskforce for compelling evidence).

However, it is their more insidious second aspect that causes me more concern. The idea here is to have numerous different voices saying broadly the same thing - that a particular neoliberal development path (featuring privatisations) is the *inevitable* way forward; and to construe any dissent to this as being promulgated solely by a *minority* of backward traditionalists. Suffice to say that this is a well-worn tactic in the circles of modern economics which we've already witnessed in action several times over the last quater century during both previous rounds of neo-liberalisation and the irrational exuberance that surrounded Globalisation (for a more elucidated discussion of this, check out John Ralston Saul's "The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World").

The easy provision of Government sinecures for Business Round Table associates is probably also a factor in this profusion of politicised pestilents.

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