September 26, 2012 Leave a comment
I’m often reminded, when considering our current government, of Peter Singer’s President of Good and Evil. Singer set out to examine Bush as a person – to discover the personal ethic that created what many perceive as a damaging and destabilising political environment. He develops a theory of Bush as a Machiavellian “gentleman” – a man for people to identify with, while those behind him do the real work of government, the cruel and (arguably) necessary acts countries must do to survive.
The people behind Bush were politically very intelligent. Singer identifies them, and their Neoconservative movement, as having its origins in Trotskyite theory. Whether this is true or not, certainly among their methods was a determined programme of attacks and purges against identified enemies of the programme.
It has become readily obvious that the current Government is willing to sideline and damage any and all parties that disagree with them – from beneficiaries to Crown entities. Our Prime Minister’s affable and deliberately vague language provides a vehicle to obscure the effect of that damage. Even when admitting fault for his vague language, he has to minimise and be vague – “I was probably a bit sloppy”. As if sloppiness gets one homes in Hawai’i.
At every step, our governing team has been ignoring advice from those we (the taxed citizenry) pay to give the best advice possible. Public services can create inefficiencies, it is true, but they also give opportunities for kinds of excellence not needed or found universally in business. We may wish to tar our top advisors with the same tarry brush we apply to road workers leaning on shovels (1), however they are there due to combinations of ferocious intelligence and breathtaking breadth and depth of experience.
How is it, then, when a civil servant has made such a horrendously dangerous error do I see this as good news?
Mr. Key’s tone. Here’s NBR’s article on the matter. This is not a glib John Key. Nothing here is sloppy in the least – he is very carefully saying exactly what he has been asked to say. This is a government realising the dream end run planned in the last electoral term is turning into a tooth and claw battle, and that their practise has undermined their own programme. Key’s only error in communication came when he was asked if he took responsibility for the error, and responded in the negative. A Minister takes responsibility for their portfolio regardless of misdeeds at staff level, and in conducting an investigation Mr. Key is acting within that responsibility. Possibly he thought he was being asked if he was culpable, which would be a different matter. A pity that particular question was not asked.
Mr. Key people behind him have taken this country through a radical set of changes which will create constitutional implications for decades to come. They have been following the dictates of the assassin master Hassan i Sabah, as quoted by Burroughs: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted“. The master’s advice was that this phrase, said before sleeping, would deliver the answer to any question in a dream.
Whatever question the National Goverment is asking, this nation isn’t dreaming, and the roomful of clocks are going off.
(1) Not that I personally believe people who work in extreme conditions season after season are in any way lazy.