Another Reminder For People Who Think We Live In A Deregulated Country

Spend some time reading through “Regulatory institutions and practices“, a draft report from the Productivity Commission that looks at what it says on the cover.

One of the central stories the left try to tell is that since 1984, structural reform has devastated our regulatory institutions and because of that, #inequality, or something like that.

They conveniently leave out that New Zealand has a pretty decent regulatory environment – employing thousands of people and paying decent salaries that enable some level of self-actualisation.

They also leave out any discussion of compliance costs and what firms actually spend – or implicitly spend – on complying with regulation.

This isn’t a post about whether more or less regulation is better – I’m agnostic on that. What I’m concerned about is that the left continually make stuff up when it comes to how “deregulated” or “neo-liberal” the New Zealand economy is.

It doesn’t square with the data – it doesn’t square with reality, it doesn’t square with how firms interact with regulatory agencies and it doesn’t square with how average households interact with agencies like their local council or regional council.

If what the left were trying to say is true – what are they accusing the 14,000 people working in this portion of the public service of doing? Are they seriously trying to tell a story where New Zealand is some deregulated cowboy country where you don’t get any enforcement of what’s on the statute books or in delegated legislation? Really?

Hysteria around how far structural reforms went, coloured by political bias, doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it directly undermines the credibility of anyone who wants to discuss issues of concern like youth underemployment or the failure of many workers and industry groups to adapt to a globalised, hyper-competitive world.