Taxing Rodney: Hide’s carbon hypocrisy

Untroubled as he is by the responsibilities of public office, or any apparent need to appear consistent, the former leader of the far-right ACT Party, Rodney Hide, attempts to ridicule the Green Party’s new carbon tax policy in his column at the National Business Review this week. You can’t actually read the column, because it’s behind a paywall, but the ever-helpful Cameron Slater at Whale Oil comes to the rescue by copy/pasting all the best bits. Here’s Hide, 2014 style:

We desperately need the Russel-Norman. A tax to deal to a problem bigger than World War II, the Depression and the Plague all at once.

We must go Green, save the planet and get rich. What a plan! What a vision!

Years ago an old man grumbled to me. GST. Bah. He didn’t think taxing food was right. “What’s next? The air we breathe?” Nope. Our new tax is on a trace gas that we all breathe out.

But those of us with functioning memories will recall that back when Rodney was ACT leader and a minister in a National-led government — only six years ago — he was advocating that the Emissions Trading Scheme be dropped and replaced by — wait for it — a carbon tax. Here’s Rodney in 2010, talking to Guyon Espiner on TV1:

We don’t think we should be doing anything, but what we’ve said is, if you were going to do something, it would be far cheaper and far easier just to put a low tax across fossil fuels. That would achieve the same result, you could also subsidise forestry, and we’ve offered that up to the National Party as an alternative that would be easier. Why would it be easier? It would administratively much less costly, because you’d just put a tax across rather than try and operate a trading mechanism…

I think I sort of understand what’s going on in Rodney’s head. When he was trying to be an electable politician, he at least made an effort to make sense. Now that he’s just another libertarian ideologue with a soapbox he can say whatever he wants, and the green-hating rabid right so ably fed and watered at Slater’s blog will lap it up. Meanwhile, out in the real world, perhaps a carbon tax’s time has come…

45 thoughts on “Taxing Rodney: Hide’s carbon hypocrisy”

  1. He is consistent on one level. He consistently attacks and raises doubts against any threateneing current proposal that sheets some of the costs of any externalities back to the producers. Rodney and his ilk preach “users pay” but not “abusers pay”. In addition at the time he was desperately trying to keep an already discredited party afloat by tapping into the rural constituency particularly the rural constituency that can’t see past the next Fonterra or wool cheque. As for his attitude toward the Greens I’m pretty sure he knows the score on sustainability which makes his pitch to the undiscerning all that more regrettable. Rodney has always been infatuated with the Right Wing Austrians.

  2. I remember that Rodney was a guest speaker at the Heartland institute meeting in Australia where he was billed as a minister of New Zealand. I wonder if he paid taxes on his fee? I suspect not.

  3. Of all the strange things about Rodney Hide, perhaps the strangest is that he was one of NZ’s few scientifically-literate MPs, with degrees in Bot / Zoo and Resource Management.

    Where did he go wrong, I wonder? Perhaps this is a clue:

    In 1993, Alan Gibbs, an Auckland businessman, offered Hide a job as an economist. He accepted, and also began working at a radio station owned by Gibbs. Later, Hide also met Roger Douglas, a former Minister of Finance whose radical economic reforms had made a considerable impression on him.

    There, you see? Rodney’s just another impressionable young man who fell in with the wrong crowd and got addicted to neoliberalism; decades later, he’s a tragic figure, trapped on the wrong side of the looking glass, raging at a world that has passed him by….

  4. ACT is finished as far as the New Zealand public is concerned. Hyde and Brash sawed half way trough the trunk of the tree, Banks finished it off.
    Bygone the right wing bunch of trolls. Trundle back to uncle Gibbs for a bear hug. Perhaps, when the waters rise he will give you one of his amphibious vehicles to get past the flooded bits on the coastal roads of the future.
    Perhaps Gibbs must be commended for his vision actually, as coastal property owners will need his vehicles to access their possessions. It could in fact be a way of life of the second half of the century and beyond…. 😉

    1. Act was finished as a brand when Jamie Whyte took over and they were poling at zero percent. Since then he has managed to drag it above zero.

      1. ACT are a political party in the same way that The Monkees were a rock band; both were artificial constructs, but the Monkees grew into their parts and almost became real, whereas each incarnation of ACT has become more bizarre than its predecessor.

        Jamie Whyte is hilarious – NZ’s answer to Greg Abbott!

        1. Indeed, a former Cambridge University philosophy lecturer, winner of the Bastiat Prize for journalism and a member of the Adam Smith Institute.

          Clearly a fringe dweller.

          In the other corner, we have a paid-for party by founder of “MegaPorn” and convicted fraudster, who fails to pay his staff and has a signed copy of Mein Kampf

          Clearly, no competition

          1. AndyS, Jamie Whyte having a qualification doesn’t make him “mainstream”. Plenty of fanatics or fools have a degree.

            ACT are a bunch of intellectuals spouting Ayn Rand as is they are quoting laws of quantum physics. Laughable really.

            Dotcom is not really in the other corner. He is just an opportunist with no particular belief system other than free internet and how do I avoid extradition.


            1. And as we know from listening from AndyS: A mathematics education from Oxford does not convey the ability see beyond the tinted glasses of one’s political conviction…. In other words: Political agendas override sensibility.

            2. By the way, I was merely pointing out that Dr Whyte has some kind of background in the political affiliation he subscribes to, namely classical liberalism.

              As opposed to, say ,members of the Internet party, who aren’t sure what their political affiliation of background actually is.

            3. At least he speaks from an intellectual base, which you may disagree with.
              I would happily listen to a well read Marxist anyway over the current crop of deadbeats that form the political left in NZ.
              Helen Clark was a hard act to follow

            4. Yeah, right – Jamie Whyte is such an intellectual that he doesn’t have to know any history of the Tragedy of the Commons before bloviating on about the RMA:

              The second major announcement from the conference was the party’s plan to dump the Resource Management Act. Not reform it, or repeal parts of it – Dr Whyte wants the entire 826 pages wiped from the books, and replaced with nothing.

              “It’s not clear it needs to be replaced with anything at all,” he says.

              Dr Whyte says there is “hundreds of years of common law” that can adequately protect the environment.

              Clearly, Whyte is nothing more than a hireling of the 1%.

            5. A party whose political philosophy is about less regulation and less state, campaigning for ….

              … Less regulation.

              Who’d have thought?

            6. Act are up against so e stiff competition though, with the Civilian Party offering free ice cream and Llamas, and whatever Kim’s party thinks up for us on the day

            7. And a lack of regulation and forethought has resulted in exactly the quagmire we are in: a runaway exponential growth paradigm that puts production of crap for a growing pool of people ahead of the survival of us all and the environment that we depend on. And of cause now, when we would need a common plan of action and policy to enable it, we are stuck in a libertarian capitalist system that denies us the ability to have the same…..

            8. “A lack of regulation and forethought….”

              Where has there been a lack of regulation? The EU? the USA?
              This seems to be some mythical land you have in your mind Thomas.

            9. Sorry Andy, the quagmire of our children (and our supposedly golden retirement years…) have been described and foreseen long ago. Club of Rome, early 70ties….
              Since then we (humanity) have moved predictably entirely into the wrong direction.
              What the libertarian egomaniacs perceive as ‘over regulation’ is in fact much to little and way to late.
              We have against our better knowledge allowed a system to grow exponentially that is predicated on the consumption of vast amounts of cheap fossil fuel energy. We knew that it won’t last for one and we knew that we will have trouble no end with the detritus. An intelligent species would have developed a system that prevented growth of the wrong kind until we found a better way of doing things. The capitalist system will not provide the answers until pressed by economic realities to do so. And the later is what we are talking about. Sensible policies with the force to enact them, internationally, to set the rules for the capitalist game of thrones in such a way that we end up on a path to sustainability.
              The crocodile tears of the libertarian toddlers are just as stupid now, faced with regulations for emissions and ff use and taxation than back in time those of the car industry when catalytic converters where demanded by policy and fuel consumption standards regulated. Time to get on with it Andy. Welcome regulation and adapt to it or fossilize….

            10. Thomas, since you seem to love regulation so much, perhaps you could tell us what extra regulation you would like in your life today, that will stop you and your children doing stuff

            11. Thomas, this fantastic thing called regulation has resulted in Scotland missing its CO2 targets (emissions are increasing) despite carpeting its land in wind turbines, and the UK being warned that the power will go out unless companies get paid to use diesel generator backups

              Isn’t it great? Aren’t you so happy that smart people in government can make such well-informed decisions?

              Hurray for regulations!

            12. Hi Thomas
              I must have missed out on the exponential growth, since my day rate hasn’t changed in about 7 years.

            13. I do understand the issues raised in that document – namely uncontrolled debt in western countries.

              I am fully aware that we are either heading for a big crash, hyperinflation, or some other disaster

              All we can do is make ourselves as resilient as possible, by increasing self-sufficiency and reducing personal debt

  5. I’ve met plenty of young academics who read Dawkin’s simplistically on the “selfish gene” and had an epiphany. Something to do with their youthful hedonistic impulses. You’ll find it all in Plato’s Republic as you do most things. Most men rapidly grow out of it when they begin to realise justice is good for everyone. Rodney didn’t.

  6. Maybe there is another aspect as well. Rodney Hide is one of these extreme libertarian fellows, very anti rules and regulations, and anti government etc. School of Ayn Rand. I wonder if this is kind of built into his psyche.

    I read an article somewhere that liberalism and conservatism both have an evolutionary / genetic basis so we are born that way. Maybe libertarianism is the same. The article did note there is evidence we can modify our basic instincts over time, it’s not absolutely fixed.

    I can’t agree with Rodney Hides climate change scepticism, that’s for sure. He is also tripping up over all his inconsistencies.

    1. Libertarian mindsets, a rational hypothesis is that most of them simply never learned how to share anything while growing up.
      I’d be interested in knowing the percentage of libertarians who grew up in single child families compared to people of other political leanings.

      1. I’d argue that no such discussion is ever complete without Kung-fu Monkey:

        There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

        Personally I suspect that the incidence of Aspergers would be significantly higher than the general population’s amongst Libertarians.

        1. Yet another reductio ad absurdum distraction from Heartland’s NZ representative, Andy Scrase.

          In fact, the modern democratic state is all that stands between us and impoverishment / enslavement by the wealthy and powerful, as per pretty well everywhere since the invention of agriculture.

          1. If only we got rid of those evil capitalists we could all live in a socialist paradise just like North Korea and Venezuela

            I take it you are voting for free ice cream and Llamas Rob?
            Do you have any thoughts at all, or just an endless stream of abuse like your compatriots here?
            What exactly is your vision for a fair and just society, that differs from what we have today?

            1. Hm, lets see:

              Andy: “What exactly is your vision for a fair and just society, that differs from what we have today?”

              Henceforth AndyS thinks what we have today is just and fair. So how about we ask Forbes Magazine what that means:

              Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

              The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

              The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

              Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

              The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.

              In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

              (Forbes Magazine)

              Now add to that that the top 1% of the population think of themselves invulnerable by what is unfolding and give a rats arse about the rest of us, future generations and the planet.

              Andy: There is a massive wide open space between the extremes of a North Korea on one side (nobody wants this, just to make sure you understand) and a deregulated economy where companies can do what they want to maximize profit.

              All we are saying is: we need clear and enforced regulations that price the cost of ff use use adequately into the equation, plus other environmental cost such as overfishing, rain forest destruction, just to name a few. Then, once the use of cheap but destructive practices are made as costly as they should, the liberal capitalist system is probably well suited to come up with solutions that within this framework create a path to a sustainable future. But unless we make the true cost of our lifestyle appear in our balance books, nothing will change.

            2. I agree that overfishing is a problem and we need regulations to control it. I am not anti-regulation. I am anti-stupid regulations

              EU regulations are forcing fishermen to dump thousands of tonnes of dead cod into the North Sea every year,


              and also the EU are overfishing in African waters


              Furthermore, it is the EU tax structure that allows “tax holidays” for companies like Starbucks that pay no tax in the UK, for example.

          2. I am not associated with Heartland in anyway, and if you continue to make false statements about me in public forums using my full name, I will collate these and take legal action against you.

            Thanks for your kind consideration, My Taylor

            1. Since all my comments are moderated, I have to abide by the rules. This is something that appears to bypass you, Rob

  7. I’d prefer The Civilian’s icecream to ACT’s Invisible Hand, any day; The Civilian brings humour into our lives, whereas ACT’s paid-for mission is merely to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

    1. I agree, and I will be voting for free ice cream and Llamas and free Interwebz and free lunches.

      The idea of evil capitalists creating so called wealth fills me with horror

      I just want to live in peace on social security and have the government support me for the rest of my life.

    2. I would dispute the statement that The Civilian brings humour into our lives

      Even if it did, do you think it is worthy of a $30K donation from the taxpayers?

    1. Farage didn’t “do a Banks”.

      John Banks was accused of falsely submitting an electoral document, not ripping off the taxpayer.

      The latter is standard across the board and it comes as no surprise that Farage does it too

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