Anyone who has read some of Linda McQuaig's past work, among others, will know about New Zealand and its erstwhile role as the poster child of market-fundamentalist reforms, a veritable laboratory of the slashing and burning that became so popular in the 90s. Well, Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution is a bigwig at the Mercatus Center, a Washington DC libertodroidal thinktank. He wistfully opines about scenarios pertaining the New Zealand's upcoming elections, daydreaming, apparently, about when NZ will return to the good old days when governments even more happily than now cut welfare rates to starvation levels---welfare recipients are there because they like it, don't you know---and bandied about words like labour market flexibilty, code, of course, for being able to threaten the proles with...umm...having to go on starvation-level welfare if they didn't accept their place. Or something.
One fascinating tidbit is the hostility of him and some of his commenters towards proportional representation. He writes, in code:
Further reforms were thwarted by a move to proportional representation in the early 1990s, which gave minority parties undue influence and weakened threads of accountability.
Decoding this, it means that he's annoyed that unpopular reforms can't be implemented because proportional systems more closely reflect the popular vote. Obviously, the "small" parties have to come up with more than half the seats to block his precious reforms. Indeed, he notice some of contradiction here:
New Zealand policymakers were well ahead of public attitudes, and managed so many reforms only because the country's (previous) Parliamentary system had few checks and balances.
See the contempt for democracy here?
But something more interesting emerges from the comments. From one of Tyler Cowen's supporters,
I also see another reason for the lack of recent reforms and that is politicans who strongly support reforms and will follow through with the reforms regardless of the short-term political consequences. When the going gets tough and a majority people of a populace are against certain reforms, many politicans wimp out despite the potential long-term gains for reform. I don't see this as a major factor, but unless you have a politican(s) driven to reform the economy regardless of short-term political damage it is very difficult to do so, maintaining the status quo is so much easier.
So this commenter agrees that democracy is an obstacle. But note what he leaves out: why people might be against the reforms. In fact, the whole notion of the human cost of reforms only appears fairly far down in the thread, and it is most clear in this post, which finally grounds the ideology back in reality:
I think that the human and social cost of the reforms cannot be overstated. We went from a society with a high degree of equality to one with skyrocketing inequality, homelessness, beggars on the streets, and where pawnshops and foodbanks became growth industries. We went from a society where the government assisted those in need to one where it abandoned them. We had people living in garages because they could not afford to pay the new market rents on state housing, and third world diseases in the poorer areas because people could not afford user fees on doctor's visits and prescriptions. We had a government which deliberately and knowingly cut benefits to below starvation levels (yes, really; they did a study on the cost of living, took the amount where people could barely afford to stay alive, and cut it by 10%) - at the same time as the government pursued strategic unemployment to keep wages down. And then, having put the boot in to those on benefits, the Employment Contracts Act did the same to workers, leading to pay cuts of up to 30%. And all of this was done over people's heads, with policies rammed through sometimes overnight to prevent public opposition from forming.
In other words, democracy was circumvented in order to ram through provisions that manage to undercut social solidarity. Bravo! You have to be smoking pretty bad libertodroid crack to imagine this as a happy outcome. Unfortunately, we all have to smoke the crack now, since that's all that might save us from the consequences of oil-producer capacity depletion.