Muldoonism appeals to many. The idea that by massive borrowing for government-led projects New Zealand can be independent from the world.
Every time it has been tried it has led to disaster. The bigger the borrowing, the bigger the bust. Vogel's borrowing in the 1870s resulted in the long depression.
Dr Bryce Wilkinson's "Illusions of history: how misunderstanding the past jeopardises our future" sets out how the Bank of England had to save New Zealand from default after the first Labour government's borrowing. Wilkinson shows how close the country came to default after Sir Robert Muldoon's reckless borrowing in the late 1970s. The research should be compulsory reading for current Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Sir John Key is right when he says that "you have to believe the Government can go on borrowing a billion dollars every week to disguise that we are no longer making our way in the world".
Most of the country does want to believe we can go on borrowing, As Paul Simon sings "A man believes what he wants to believe and disregards the rest."
Most have not been economically affected by the lockdowns. Pensions and benefits, central and local government wages have continued to be paid. Some have even prospered as the government sprays out money even to the media.
Commentators report the spending is from a $50 billion Covid Response and Recovery Fund. There is no fund. It is an accounting fiction. It is all borrowed. Other countries are doing the same.
Our balance of payments is being saved by this Government's enemy - the farmers.
The prices for milk, meat and wood are cyclical. When the commodity prices fall we will discover Labour has blown 30 years of fiscal prudence.
We will also find there is nothing to show for the four years of Muldoonism, except debt.
Labour's solution to every problem to centralise will fail. Studies of countries that have adopted a centralised health system reveal it results in money being diverted from the regions to the capital.
The Government's Three Waters reform is the biggest robbery in our history. The government is taking over $35.7b of ratepayers' water assets and leaving the ratepayers with the debt.
A central Maori health authority and granting iwi governance over the Three Waters will not resolve the real issues facing many Maori.
The borrowing is not solving the crisis in education. We now rate as last in the developed world for math and literacy. Once our best state schools were world-leading. Now NCEA results reveal a significantly growing gap between state and private schools.
The Government's solution to the lockdown disruption to pupils' education is to grant NCEA credits for work not achieved. This was vital knowledge for university success in the past. Why is it not vital knowledge today?
House prices are out of control. Inflation is on the rise.
The real number of people affected by the lack of MIQ places is many times more than the 25,000 who have missed out on a place.
I am not one of the 25,000, yet I have travelled internationally on business every year for 27 years. I chaired a small telco. Once we could not travel our business was not viable. For me the business was fun. For my partner it was his livelihood. We are another unrecorded MIQ casualty.
Muldoonism is the reason we are in lockdown. Labour has made the Covid response a government-only project excluding the private sector. Who believes the private sector would have failed to order vaccines on time? We could have been fully vaccinated by July - avoiding this lockdown.
The government first blamed vaccine supply, its own fault, and is now blaming anti-vaxxer sentiment as the reason half the country is yet to be fully vaccinated.
This is denied by the Ministry of Health's own research. The August survey reveals 86 per cent intend to vaccinate.
Forty-four per cent of those not intending to vaccinate is not due to anti-vaxxer sentiment but "cannot see the need". A perfectly rational, if selfish, view if you believe Labour's propaganda that the government will eliminate Covid.
If our Prime Minister admitted that Covid is now endemic then research indicates more than 90 per cent will vaccinate. Jacinda Ardern will never admit the Australian Prime Minister was right when he warned that New Zealand cannot eliminate the Delta variant. To do so would be to admit this lockdown is one of the biggest Government failures ever.
If the government had included the private sector from the beginning, GP clinics and pharmacies in the vaccination programme we would be closer to herd immunity.
Covid testing could be widespread and routine if the government did not ban the private sector from importing cheap reliable saliva testing.
The government is now the problem. Borrowing a billion dollars a week has removed any sense of urgency. It is Muldoonism that is preventing New Zealand from being open again to the world.
- Richard Prebble is a former leader of the Act Party and former member of the Labour Party.