In New Zealand politics the phrase "the more things change, the more some things stay the same" is perhaps nowhere more relevant than people wanting to try and 'fix' New Zealand's national treasure that isn't broken: ACC. You only really have to have a quick look at the last three years to see this in action, while those who've been alive longer and paying attention for longer have had to watch it since the 90's.
In the news today the government announced it is considering raising ACC levies just months after it lowered it them. And evidence gathered by a Hazel Armstrong indicates that this is being done by Nick Smith purely to 'level the playing field' with insurance companies who are getting some entry into the work account starting in October.
So basically ACC levies are low and cheap but apparently we need to make them more expensive so we can make room for some private insurance competition. Awesome for those insurance companies I guess but annoying for everyone else who seems pretty happy with ACC. PriceWaterhouseCooper, the nearest thing to an independent body we can get I suppose, was pretty happy to call it the best system of its kind in the world as recently as 2008.
A quick cycle back in time to 2009 makes this talk about levy cuts and levy rises to make room for competition seem rather strange. Two years ago according to the government ACC was in a horrible deficit and insolvent.
ACC, which has consistently performed among the world's best in health outcomes and ensuring comprehensive coverage for all New Zealanders since 1974, was apparently in such dire straits in 2009 that one young ACTer proclaiming to fight for less government and against monopolies had a solution to fix the whole thing!
"Liberty Scott" boldly proclaimed: "The monopoly has failed miserably, once again. The measures National are announcing are patching up a system that is breaking". The young libertard’s solution was pretty elegant and simple: bust up the whole thing, or as he put it "move fast ... to individualize the whole system". Free the markets! (and also some horrendously complex stuff in practice about grandfathering in existing claimants. Or even worse tendering them out because of course we need free market competition to take up a work burden that doesn't currently exist).
So yeah. What do we make of this? Well Liberty Scott does look like a muppet 3 years later doesn't he. But what 'Liberty Scott' represents isn't just some phenomenon that looks stupid recently, nor is it constrained to sub-par blogs. Neo-liberalism has a storied tradition of this type of stuff and it has broken more than a few things since the 80’s to get a quick fix for a few people.
Unfortunately the tradition of trying to break stuff so a few rich mates can get their fix seems to be continuing from Nick Smith to Judith Collins in 2011 - although admittedly not as drastic as Liberty Scott’s proposed 2009 solution.
But also since 2009 then there have been some fantastic changes. Those changes of course being that ACT got individualized down to one MP and NZFirst is back in action working hard to not fix things which aren't broken. I'm glad to say to Liberty Scott that NZFirst has a monopoly on really understanding the value behind our public healthcare system and his bullshit is laughable.