TRACKSIDE - McTique II
by John D'Aloia
A previous TRACKSIDE described New Zealand government reform actions as reported by Maurice P. McTigue in an article entitled "Rolling Back Government" printed in the April 2004 Imprimis, published by Hillsdale College. Space limitations prevented relating other actions taken by McTigue and company.
The reformers believed that subsidies make people dependent, dependent people lose their ingenuity, and dependent people become more dependent. McTigue’s example was sheep farming. Lamb was selling for $12.50 per carcass on the market and the taxpayers were kicking in another $12.50 per. In a one-year period, the government pulled the plug on the subsidy. Sheep ranchers put their heads together and developed a product that, within four years, brought $30 per carcass. By 1999 the price was $115 per carcass. It was forecast that eliminating the subsidy would result in corporate farming eradicating family farms. The opposite happened - corporate farms declined and family farming expanded. Inside the beltway, are you listening?
The New Zealand educational system was failing. More and more money was poured into the system while achievements headed south. McTigue said "It cost us twice as much to get a poorer result than we did 20 years previously with much less money." They found that only 30 cents of every education dollar reached the classroom. (The educrats were well fed.) They eliminated all Boards of Education, and placed each of 4,500 schools under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of students at the school. They gave each school a bag of money based on the number of students with no strings attached to the bag. Private schools got the same bag of money, allowing parents to choose which schools got the money for their children. Within 18 months, the large achievement disparity between public and private schools evaporated as teachers were empowered to teach - and realized that without students in their classrooms, they would be without employment. Within three years, New Zealand students went from being 14 or 15 percent below their international peers to 14 or 15 percent above them in academic performance. In Topeka, are you listening?
Every one who has had an encounter of a close kind on a highway with a deer (my encounter was more than close), and farmers, will like the New Zealand approach to managing deer. For 120 years, New Zealand tried to eliminate deer, loosed on the land when they were imported by the English for hunting. The deer were an invasive species - keep that term in mind for it is another ecofascist power play. The reformers authorized farmers and ranchers to farm the deer if they could catch them and keep them behind eight-foot high fences. Voila! The government spent not one cent since on deer eradication and New Zealand has 40 percent of the world’s venison market. In Topeka, are you listening? I think not - many, many sessions ago, a Kansas citizen brought a somewhat similar idea to the dome and was scarcely given the time of day. Why? A private-market solution is a direct threat to the entrenched bureaucracy which exists on the concept that government owns the state’s wild animals. If private citizens can own and manage wild animals, rangers, wardens, and offices in Topeka are superfluous baggage.
I wish McTigue had a bit of influence in Topeka. Not only is Kansas the "High Tax Point on the Prairie", we are spending ourselves into the poor house. The Guv’s staff has estimated that the "short fall" (such a genteel term for spending what you don’t have) for FY2010 would be $188M increasing to $400M in FY2011. Caleb Stegal, in an article posted on KansasLiberty.com on July 2nd,longed for the good old days when Kansas had a conservative Democrat for governor. He wrote: "[She] abhorred waste in government and the burden of taxation. She vetoed tax increases and used her line-item to strike bloated deficit spending. She balanced the budget and forced an "existing resources" budget through a recalcitrant state legislature which increased general fund spending by only one-half of one percent. (Pause and let that sink in, especially in light of our current GOP-controlled legislature which treats the mere mention of holding to 3% budget increases with the tantrums of a spoiled child.)"
If Kansas Republicans cannot summon up the will to establish a McTigue-like program to straighten things out, perhaps we can find another Governor Finney.
See you Trackside.
Reprinted from the Old Eponym site in honor of former Editor John D'Aloia
Excerpts reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu. Subscriptions are free upon request.