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Wednesday 08 October 2008


Proclamations of the Red Queen

22nd August 2008

Maxim Institute: Taxation Versus Christian Right Policies?

Posted by: Craig Young

While the Maxim Institute has announced that it intends to resurrect its nzvotes website to provide information for centre-right voters about the forthcoming election, its parties and candidates, the organisation continues to steadily diverge from the New Zealand Christian Right.

Case in point- Steve Thomas’ new paper, Governing for the Good: What Does It Mean?  While there is a chapter on conservative Catholic definitions of what constitutes the “common good”, predominantly from the United States, Thomas’ discussion paper is particularly indebted to the Business Roundtable and Centre for Independent Studies for its underlying premise- that increased central government spending is bad, as well as increased levels of government taxation to pay for central government provided social services. As one might guess, it tends toward that old New Right nostrum that ‘civil society’ is a wholly independent set of non-governmental social networks and community associations, which should spend its time providing social services for its members than rely on central government welfare services.

This is carefully ringfenced off from any critical consideration about civil society as contributors to active citizenship and democratic participation, and provides a somewhat romanticised view of charitable organisations before the rise of the modern welfare state in the thirties. Notably too, it keeps well away from traditional Christian Right obsessions like women’s reproductive freedom and LGBT rights.

It’s not difficult to see why- diminished central government expenditure means no money for so-called Christian Right ‘abstinence programmes’, intrusive government regulation of abortion services, and more delegated funding to organisations like the Family Planning Association and AIDS Foundation, on the basis that these primary health NGOs are saving central government downstream funds through providing preventative services that forestall later costs from expenditure on pharmaceuticals, hospital bed occupancy, staff wages, wear and tear on medical equipment, and so on. If reduced taxation is the fount of all virtue, then primary health organisations are particularly virtuous, it would seem. Granted, Thomas’ chapter tries to make a case for religious involvement in abandoned central government social services, but there are no concrete case studies.

As with its contacts with the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy and Acton Institute, this policy paper provides more clear evidence that the Maxim Institute is now more a creature of the New Right, than oriented toward mobilising social conservatives.

Recommended:

Steve Thomas: “Governing for the Good: What Does It Really Mean?”: http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/links/taxreport1

Tags: Politics · Religion

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 warly // Aug 25, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Mr Young

    Did you ever consider that pushing more funding to community associations might mean state funding for Maxim Institute itself?

    At this stage of election cycle, would expect to see more clear support for National than this - although National plan to fund charities more.

    However National plans to retain Working for Families and Kiwi Saver too I think? And we know how they voted in smacking debate.

    Overall I wonder is Maxim wants to get the funding for community groups and possibly themselves first, then show true colours.

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