I am completely opposed to the sell-off of state assets by the New Zealand Government. They are buying a fight and getting into a big old mess, all for no great purpose.
It is true that governments should not own commercial enterprises, and should stick to its primary role of maintaining a justice system, defending the country, and possibly providing a backstop of welfare, health and education (if we are being ideologically impure). But the fact remains that these assets are already currently collectively owned. Any sale of the asset does not benefit the owners, but goes straight into government coffers to be wasted. So you are left with no further control over the asset, for no financial gain. There is no personal dividend. There is no tax cut. No wonder people are pissed off!
The government is doing the equivalent of stealing something you own, selling it, and pocketing the proceeds. It’s the equivalent of a tax. It empowers and enriches the government at the expense of the people, and there is nothing more left wing as an idea than that. If it stands to reason that governments should not buy or nationalise businesses, and that such action is either a gross abuse of public funds, or a gross abuse of power, it also stands to reason that they should not sell those same assets without any benefit to those who paid for them in the first place.
To add to the clusterf*ck we have here, the government is not even selling the whole asset. It is seeking the worst of both worlds – a stake in the business, plus hocking it off to someone else. And who is that “someone else”? Who is being given priority in the sale? New Zealanders – the same people who supposedly own the asset! They are being asked to pay twice for it! Not only adding insult to injury, but also deflating the value of the shares.
If National and the Right is struggling to defend the sales, it is not because they are not explaining them properly. It’s because they are a bad idea, and people can figure it out for themselves. So they should just stop.
If we really want to reduce the size of government and off-load these assets (liabilities), they should not be sold, but should either be put into trust (with separate elections for the trustees), or better still, given back to every New Zealander in the form of a share distribution. Then each and every New Zealander can decide for themselves whether to engage in “asset sales”, and every New Zealander can personally benefit from any dividends. Doing this would be the best way of reducing the size of government, instead of increasing it, as these proposed sales intend to do.