Saturday, January 31, 2009

The bounders

It was Dean Inge, I believe, who once said that he could
not forgive Hamlet for his caddish behaviour to Ophelia.
It may be a long time, if ever, before we New Zealanders
will be able to forgive the European Union for its caddish
behaviour in reintroducing subsidies for dairy exports.
This is plain bad form. Was it in vain that New Zealand
set a shining moral example to the world by stripping
itself of all subsidies in the 1980s and standing pure and
proud in the global marketplace, uncontaminated by (ugh)
state assistance or (yecch) market distortions? Have we
not fought the good fight at trade talks for the past 25
years precisely so that less enlightened nations might
learn from us and see the error of their ways? Roger
Douglas must be a shattered man today. Let our thoughts
be with him. That in this hour of global crisis the nations
of Europe should stoop so low as to try to protect their
national economies and their people’s livelihoods…words
fail me. Protectionism stalks the streets again and none
dare sleep safely in their beds. But wait! Even as we blog,
plucky trade minister Tim Groser is in Davos trying to
bring the world's financial leaders to their senses. There is
hope yet that our children and our children’s children may
grow up competitive, clean and free from the taint of (yuck)
subsidies, nasty little things that they are. The subsidies,
that is.

5 comments:

Truth Seeker said...

As we appear to be the only dairy country without subsidies, perhaps the lack of subsidies a "market distortion".

The Canadians protect their dairy industry because they want fresh local milk and their cows need to live in barns for 3-4 months each year. If the cow isn't in the barn keeping warm, it's probably a dead cow. They can't compete with a country like NZ that doesn't need barns to keep cattle in. But they want fresh milk, so they need to protect their farmers. Repeat as required around the world. Other places are too hot or too dry....and so on.

I wish our politicians would simply accept reality instead of continuing to sign up for a demonstrably bankrupt and failed purist version of the wider market religion.

But with a National government in power, the acceptance of reality is still some time off in the future. parties with a large strain of faith don't tend do reality very well.

southernrata said...

This has been nagging at me since I read it last week, and I've finally worked out why.

While I agree with your sentiments, the stand you are mocking is essentially the one that those of us who are worried about climate change urge our governers to take - with varying and diminishing success - and your mockery echoes the arguments of the inactivists - "What can we do", "we're too small to make a difference", "no one is going to listen to us", etc. All true, more or less, but still not sufficient reason for not speaking out on what we (or they in this case) believe in.

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Anonymous said...

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