(Well, okay, replacing “cake” with “school” doesn’t really work here, but hey! 😉 )
I wanted to post a quick rebuttal to one of National’s policies here, as Katie reminded me about it in comments and I think it’s actually really important to talk about why it’s “privatisation by stealth”, to steal a turn of phrase from Mr. Key.
I’m talking specifically about National’s idea that all taxpayers deserve the funding they pay for public hospitals and schools, even if they choose to use private businesses instead. While I’d love this to be practical, it simply ignores the point of public funding. (Part of the reason I think this policy’s heart is in the right place is that I agree with the principle that every individual should get the most possible gain from the taxes they give to society that is consistent with a fair overall social policy. The Nats just seem to have no care with the “fair overall social policy” part of the principle.)
The point of public education and healthcare is to provide “enough and as good”1 education and healthcare to those who, due to lack of privilege, did not have adequate opportunity to pay for it directly. This is especially important in the case of education, as otherwise poor parents are going to guarantee poor, uneducated children. It has to be well-funded, because unlike private businesses, if a public school or hospital doesn’t get the revenue it needs, people miss out on the opportunity for these basic services. If a private business goes bust or has to cut services due to revenue loss, on the other hand, its customers are far more likely to be able to afford to take their business elsewhere.
So, being able to transfer your taxpayer dollars to a private institution (presumably via some sort of voucher) only works if we deliberately overfund the public institutions in anticipation of people transferring funds away from them, or if we don’t care that public schools might not have the money to properly educate kids, or we don’t care if public hospitals might not be able to afford important surgeries or preventative health initiatives.
In short: There’s a very good reason the state “double-dips” people who choose private health or education by taxing them for the public stuff. It’s because you’re paying for the people who can’t afford it. You’re buying them civilisation. Which is pretty cool, and very patriotic. Good on you. 😉
1Locke, in many ways a forerunner of libertarianism, believed you’re allowed to take whatever resources you want from the world as long as you leave “enough and as good” for everyone else- meaning that if you come across an apple tree, and know there are three other people who could conceivably find it that like apples, you can only take a quarter of the apples, and you have to take bad ones as well as good ones, so that other people can get apples just as good as the ones you took. While it has problems in terms of encouraging over-consumption, it’s a good principle for public services.