Labour have put up two campaign ads on fences at a busy roundabout in PN (presumably the householders are Labour supporters). It's a perfect spot: the ads are highly visible and will be seen by a lot of people. On one side of the street is "No asset sales" and on the other "No GST on fruit and vegetables."
Which is kind of weird. On one side, "Here's a good idea!" And on the other side, "We've just got no fucking idea!" I think it's representative of the divide in Labour between the sensible social democrat politicians who'd like us to do what other developed countries do rather than participate in mad laissez faire experiments, and the do-gooders who are in politics mainly to try and modify what they consider our inappropriate behaviour.
The asset sales one is sensible and a good thing to run with. If the govt's response to increasing debt is to sell off part of its income-generating assets but not do anything much about the increasing debt, the rest of the assets will follow, no matter how many lies they spout about retaining control. Calling them on it's the right thing to do and it's something the voters actually get. No GST on fruit and vegetables, however, is a shit policy and even shitter campaign message, in pretty much every aspect.
It's a mistake on a bunch of different levels:
1. It assumes there's some inherent virtue or health benefit in fruit and vegetables that is not present in other foods. This assumption is incorrect.
2. It assumes the govt's job is to reward or punish people's food choices based on currently-popular views of which foods embody virtue and which don't. This assumption is also incorrect.
3. It assumes taking GST off fruit and vegetables would make them cheaper for consumers to purchase. This is a hope rather than a fact.
4. It assumes consumers will buy more fruit and vegetables if the price is 15% lower. Again, this is a hope rather than a fact, and the benefits of consumers doing so are all assumed (see 1 above).
5. It assumes the benefits inherent in the fantasised magical health properties of fruit and vegetables will outweigh the costs of foregoing the tax income from them and significantly complicating the GST system. This is wishful thinking of the worst kind.
6. Finally, it assumes voters actually give a rat's ass about whether fruit and veg has GST on it. Personally, I doubt that very much. And if any Labour canvassers come to my place to tell me about it, my response will be "Oh, you're taking GST off things? Hang on, I'll make a list."
I sincerely hope the boring, sensible social democrats win out over the do-gooders in Labour before 2014.
Williams vs NZ First
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