Hōiho trading

datePosted on 11:26, September 15th, 2009 by Lew

So much of Labour and the economic left’s criticism of the māori party and its conduct in government with National is little more than the howling of self-interested Pākehā angry that the natives aren’t comporting themselves in the approved fashion. But in this case, criticism of the māori party’s support for National’s amended ETS is entirely justified — not because it goes against the principles of the labour and environmentalist movements, but because it goes against the māori party’s own stated principles and demonstrated political strategy. Idiot/Savant has a thorough fisking of the differences.

Whereas previous criticisms have mostly been leveled at the māori party for trading away tactical gains against strategic gains (going into government with National; refusing to quit any time National capitalised on its majority; etc), this decision sacrifices the strategic for the tactical, swapping a few relatively token benefits to some industry sectors in which Māori have strong interests and to low-income people among whom Māori are strongly represented, against a huge intergenerational moral hazard by which the general populace will subsidise emitters, robbing the general tax fund of revenue which could otherwise have been channeled into targeted poverty relief and social services, of which Māori are among the most significant consumers. The upshot must surely be the Foreshore and Seabed; but this seems to me a very heavy price to pay for a concession which seemed likely to go ahead in any case.

While the māori party is not — and Māori are not — ‘environmentalists’ in the western conservation-for-conservation’s-own-sake sense, a core plank of their political and cultural identity is rooted in their own kind of environmentalism, and by acceding to an ETS which does not enforce carbon limitations on industry and society, they have put this role in jeopardy and severely weakened their brand and alliances.

There is a silver lining in this for Labour and the Greens, however. The māori party’s deal has prevented Labour from succumbing to a similarly tempting compromise on the ETS, and it can retain its relatively high moral ground. Labour and the Greens now have a clear path on which they can campaign for the 2011 and future elections, a definite identity around which to orient their policies, and the real possibility of significant strengthening of the ETS in the future. Where this leaves the māori party I’m not sure; no doubt those who shout ‘kupapa!’ will be keen to consign them to the annals of history, but I don’t think redemption is impossible — especially if the māori party shepherds the FSA review through to its desired conclusion, it will remain a political force too significant to be ignored.

L

16 Responses to “Hōiho trading”

  1. Neil on September 15th, 2009 at 11:57

    I think you are seriously underestimating how significant forestry and fisheries are to the Maori economy and how very significant they are to the settlement process.

    The MP have got concessions in these areas from National that they were not going to get from Labour. It’s not a sell out, they are not paying a price, they’ve got advantage for their constituents.

  2. Lew on September 15th, 2009 at 12:19

    Neil, the point isn’t that they got nothing – the point is what they conceded for it, and that’s moral-hazard subsidies and the lack of fundamental emissions-reduction measures such as a cap and reduction targets.

    I think you’re overestimating the importance of the relatively short-term concessions on fuel, electricity, etc. and to the fishing industry (which expire at the start of 2013), although the ability to trade forestry credits is important.

    L

  3. Hugh on September 15th, 2009 at 12:39

    So… is it just me, or are you, a pakeha, seeking to tell the Maori party what the maori people’s interests in environmental policy are? And isn’t this, again according to you, an enormous no-no?

  4. Lew on September 15th, 2009 at 12:51

    Hugh, you seem to’ve misunderstood my position. The ‘enormous no-no’, to reuse your quaint expression, has never been criticising the party or its policy decisions, but their right to represent that constituency. I’m not; they might well be representing their constituency with this policy, and if that’s the case, then more strength to their arm. But according to their own stated priorities, principles and demonstrated political strategy, they’re not.

    The difference is that I’m not seeking to measure the party’s decision against some projected and largely self-serving ideal of what its constituency’s values are or ought to be, but to their own claim to legitimacy. There is dissonance here between statement and action, which will need to be resolved somehow.

    L

  5. What would Hayek say on September 15th, 2009 at 13:16

    I’m currently ignoring the details of the ETS agreement, but am fascinated by the political deal making by National and the Maori Party.

    An interesting question to me, is now that national have an “ETS” that wil be operating before the next election – what does this do for the greens.

    From a game theory perspective its easy to see the clear reasons for National making a deal with the Maori party. For National the upsides are cutting Goff and labour out of any credit and almost eliminating the unstated reason for the Green party’s existence.

    At the next election what can the greens campaign on – The they will impose a tougher ETS? That may appeal to some of their hard core support, but its not going to pick up any other votes. I’ll have to check if Ipredict has a stock for the green party at the next election, be tempted to take a punt that they go under the 5% threshold. They may find another topic to recreate themselves on, but essentially in terms of policy they are now just left with their social causes.

    Labour does better – potential to hoover up those who may have thought of voting green, but now that “something” is being done for the environment have limited interest. Potential to also pick off some of the Green social cause space also.

    Upsides for Maori Party – from a white honky perspective, they were able to cut a deal in an area that is important to Maori economic development. Whilst Lew points out Maori interest in wealth redistribution from taxation, Neil is right about the significance of forestry (anyone remember the recent central north island forestry deal) and fishing (not to forget agriculture – has been a significant move by some iwi in developing significant farming interests. Also Pita Sharples has been strong on refering to maori economic development rather than handout. Again this is not to say some of lew’s comments are not relevant, just that the grey space is significant and the payoff potentially worthwhile.

    Other upsides for Maori party – again loss of the green party may not upset them medium term (increases there coalition bargaining power with either labour or National).

    And Act – well they get to stay on the slidelines (and pick up loose voters angry that any deal was done and maybe say in the medium/long term, we told you so.

    In terms of a political deal, it might make for a good game theory case study.

  6. Neil on September 15th, 2009 at 13:20

    I don’t see it as dissonance, I see it as them negotiating. What party hasn’t changed its tune when they think they can get a better deal.

    And the MP are arguing that this will be of benefit economically for Maori.

    Yes there subsidies but there were always going to be subsidies. And to some extent it’s swings and roundabouts – we pay a bit more tax but less on power bills etc.

    I can’t see what most of the fuss is about really.

    This is all just a transitional framework, Labour and Nats versions are a lot more similar than different and in the grand scheme of things a year or two is not going to make the slightest difference.

    National do emphasise, slightly more than Labour, and the MP agree, that making sure our industry does not take a hit compared to our trading partners is important.

    I think that that caution is warranted. When Obama closes down Appalachian coal mines and Rudd bans natural gas exports to China I’ll reconsider.

  7. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 15th, 2009 at 18:06

    Neil – What you do not seem to understand is the presumption that under developed communities, of which Maori could be described as one, for the latest Western liberal environmental cause. It is not for Maori or African to make a conscious decision that they favour economic development, they must follow the Western environmentalist canon. If you think climate change is unique just look at the obituary for Norman Borlaug at http://pc.blogspot.com/2009/09/unknown-hero-norman-borlaug-dies.html

  8. millsy on September 15th, 2009 at 18:56

    The left’s attitude towards Maori is astounding. They need to realise that the Iwi and Maori elite want to trash the earth and poison the air and water, and screw the poor and workers for a few bucks as much as the white man does.

    Get your head round that, and life will by a helluva lot easier.

  9. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 15th, 2009 at 19:24

    no millsy – that is part of the guilt trip you and other pawns are laying on people who want control over their own destiny

  10. millsy on September 15th, 2009 at 19:35

    And controlling your destiny involves trashing the earth?

    Tell me Sage, what is so wonderful about having to wear a mask to keep out the smog when you go out? Or not having any beaches to swim at because they are all polluted? Or having our national parks turned into open cast mines?

    All you people care about is money, well guess what, you cannot spend your money is the earth is completely trashed

  11. Pablo on September 15th, 2009 at 20:44

    Interesting reading this in a place that is enveloped in a Sumatran smoke haze caused by unchecked slash and burn approaches to land clearing (and yes, masks are worn), and in which there is not a single body of water, fresh or salt, that is safe to swim in for hygiene reasons (government assurances notwithstanding). A place where the concept of recycling is a hippy fantasy, where the waste of paper, plastic and glass is a national past time, and in which fossil fuel burning vehicles are status symbols and public transportation, although excellent, is seen as the province of the poor and the young–and to be avoided or replaced ASAP.

    From that vantage point this discussion is actually about the start of a slippery slope (both political and economic) rather than a sustainable reality for Maori and Pakeha alike.

  12. Lew on September 15th, 2009 at 20:48

    Millsy and Phil, please depersonalise your rhetoric.

    Iwi and Maori elite want to trash the earth and poison the air and water, and screw the poor and workers for a few bucks as much as the white man does.

    To a small extent this is right – ethnicity isn’t the only determinant of social or environmental belief or action, it’s one factor among many and it doesn’t magically make a person a decent and righteous individual. But where it becomes too simplistic is in underestimating the importance of culture and assuming that elites=elites. This is a common blind spot of those on the left who see every problem as economic because they’re obsessed with the means of production.

    Speaking in crude shorthand, the main reason so-called primitive* indigenous societies have tended to tread more lightly upon the earth is due to the lack of exploitative or destructive means. Given the means, they tend in the immediate instance to be every bit as environmentally rapacious as whitey; this is clearly evidenced in NZ, where tangata whenua had already put paid to a large number of bird species before Europeans arrived, and upon obtaining their technology proceeded to do much more of the same. But all societies who’ve run into resource scarcity have developed social and cultural norms to manage resources, and in more marginal societies these imperatives are closer to the surface. Generally speaking, it is so with Māori — resource management and environmentalist ethics of a sort (though, I must stress again, not the same as those of the western Greens) are deeply encoded in their culture and upbringing, in a way and to an extent that they are not in Pākehā culture, where environmentalism as customarily defined is a decidedly postmodern conceit. Deeply encoded, and yet close to the surface, and a (though not quite the) major strand running through Māori politics ever since there was Māori politics.

    Just as it’s trite and foolish to say that Māori are just as bad as whitey on environmental matters, it doesn’t hold that they get a free pass for environmental misdeeds, either. Their choices are theirs to make, and tino rangatiratanga requires that they be answerable for those choices. So the questions around the interaction of their stated principles and beliefs, their declared actions and the likely effects of those actions are important and relevan – but can’t really be answered by recourse to simplistic, reductionist, deterministic assumptions about motivation and loyalty.

    L

    * I hate this term, but I don’t have the time to properly contextualise an alternative, so just roll with me here.

  13. Neil on September 16th, 2009 at 00:04

    So the questions around the interaction of their stated principles and beliefs, their declared actions and the likely effects of those actions are important and relevan – but can’t really be answered by recourse to simplistic, reductionist, deterministic assumptions about motivation and loyalty.

    I think you’ve come up with an original and valuable point of view on how elements of the Left see Maori politics. no one else talks about it.

  14. Hugh on September 16th, 2009 at 08:54

    Their choices are theirs to make, and tino rangatiratanga requires that they be answerable for those choices.

    Yes, but according to what you’ve said earlier, Lew, it’s not you who they are answerable to, but other Maori.

    And by the by I generally find ‘low-technology’ is a good substitute for ‘primitive’. Still somewhat judgemental I guess, but less likely to cause offense in my experience.

  15. Tiger Mountain on September 16th, 2009 at 10:05

    To a small extent this is right – ethnicity isn’t the only determinant of social or environmental belief or action, it’s one factor among many

    Lew has moved a millimetre or two on his usually implacable support for the Maori Party when faced by their MPs rather unfortunate change on the ETS. As a parliamentary party, I maintain the Maori Party represents some maori, but not necessarily all maori except by desire and implication. Just as Labour and National claim to represent all New Zealanders but in reality represent some more effectivley than others. One of the few aspiring parliamentary parties that does not make the claim to represent ‘everyone’ is the small Workers Party.

    A key feature (not obsession) Lew, for the marxist left is the concentrated private ownership of the means of production, said ownership protected and enforced as required by the state in various ways. Where everyone else in society fits into this capitalist model of minority appropriation of the socially produced product of natural resources, intellectual and physical labour is a constant ideological contest. Managers, scientists, entrepreneurs, small business, academics, contract workers, salary/waged, and beneficiaries of any ethnicity are all up against it; with racism, colonialism, sexism etc arising from the initial economic relationship.

    If the Maori party MPs are acting counter to tino rangatiratanga (which some would consider the default position for them on the ETS), what else could be driving them? this is my enquiry.

  16. Lew on September 16th, 2009 at 11:33

    Hugh,

    Yes, but according to what you’ve said earlier, Lew, it’s not you who they are answerable to, but other Maori.

    ‘Other Māori’ to an extent, and secondarily ‘those on the Māori electoral roll’; but ‘Māori party voters’ is the only group to whom they’re strictly answerable.

    Tiger Mountain,

    As a parliamentary party, I maintain the Maori Party represents some maori, but not necessarily all maori except by desire and implication.

    I maintain this too. But in addition to whom they represent (or ‘are answerable to’) electorally, to the extent that they represent a kaupapa Māori worldview or political philosophy, they also represent those who hold that worldview or philosophy, culturally and socially and politically if not electorally. This certainly isn’t ‘all Māori’, but I think they have a strong philosophical claim to an authentic kaupapa Māori position, and that’s important.

    with racism, colonialism, sexism etc arising from the initial economic relationship.

    See, this I just don’t accept. It is a philosophical point of difference I have with Marxism, and the principal reason I’m not a Marxist — although I accept that it has some importance, I don’t see the economic relationship as paramount determining factor, especially in cross-cultural situations. Arguing ‘means of production!’ without an understanding of cultural difference grants it the status of a human universal, and I often regard Marxists who insist on doing so as obsessive question-beggars.

    If the Maori party MPs are acting counter to tino rangatiratanga (which some would consider the default position for them on the ETS), what else could be driving them? this is my enquiry.

    This is a fair line of enquiry, although with the proviso above that orthodox Marxist analyses of motivation are likely to be lacking because they ignore or minimise other factors. Although I think the conditional isn’t adequately answered. Tino rangatiratanga is, at base, being able to determine their own policy agenda and priorities for their constituents. Your disagreement with the policy choice doesn’t mean that tino rangatiratanga has been sacrificed, although I think there is an emerging (though still weak) argument along these lines, that the party is subject to policy coercion and that that is not consistent with tino rangatiratanga.

    L

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