Ask Not What Your Government Can Do for You
There are some things a government cannot fix… a lot, in fact. As a willing victim of this year’s election debates, I was astounded by what politicians were prepared to “pledge” themselves to fixing.
As we consider afresh the solutions to our nation’s maladies, we would do well to remember the splinters our hands bear from the cracked staff of government. We often demand our rights, but do we hold ourselves and others accountable for their responsibilities?
“In government we trust.” From healthcare to housing, education and welfare, our government has its fingers in many pies. But should they, and (if so) to what degree?
It would seem that Prime Minister Savage and those who followed assumed the self-evident good of this “unsurpassed” level of social security.
New Zealand was known as the “social laboratory of the world” concerning its early adoption of progressive welfare policies. A young French academic named Albert Métin visited our shores in 1899 and described what he saw as “socialism without doctrines.”
Labour’s first prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, said in 1938, “I can promise the people of this country that before very long, they will have reached a condition of social security unsurpassed in any other country of the world.”
It would seem that Prime Minister Savage and those who followed assumed the self-evident good of this “unsurpassed” level of social security. So are we better off individually or collectively by government assuming responsibility for our provision?
With few exceptions, financial need is merely a symptom of the real problems.
Anecdotal and statistical data reveal ours is an increasingly dysfunctional society.
11.2 per cent of the working-age population receive benefit payments as their primary source of income, an increase of 20 per cent from 2018.
Fifteen per cent of school leavers have no NCEA qualification whatsoever, a 50 per cent rise from 2017.
Gang membership has more than doubled since 2016 to 8,875.
The lesson we should take from decades of big government spending is this: we cannot buy our way out of this mess, which (ironically) has gotten worse the more we spend.
With few exceptions, financial need is merely a symptom of the real problems. The government cannot fix these despite their promises to the contrary.
Our hope lies in increasing personal responsibility, with citizens first asking, “What can I do to improve my situation?”
People need a hand-up, not a handout.
Instead of first looking to the government when hard times befall, we should turn to those closest—people working with people to help rebuild what is broken. We need to support organisations like Te Whakaora Tangata and Christians Against Poverty, who practically help hundreds of families address real challenges every year.
People need a hand-up, not a handout. We need the courage to stop our ears to the siren song of big government.
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Communications Coordinator Josiah Brown delves into the thinking that went into his column.