Listening to National Radio one morning I heard Mike Moore being interviewed about his new appointment as our ambassador in Washington. Typically, his speech was extravagant, teeming with metaphor and slogans and hot air. As usual, he was all over the place. I wondered if he was in a balloon. But, like Invercargill’s Tim Shadbolt, he’s full of ideas. Most of them daft but about one in twenty worth considering. Which is better than most of us can say of ourselves.
I should concede, too, that Mike Moore is widely experienced in international trade and politics. However, two of the points he flew over worried me: Pharmac and beef.
In his impossible mission to get the USA to consider actual free trade. That is, genuine free trade rather than the USA’s biased version, he used terms like ‘navigate’ and ‘nudge’, ‘give and take’. Which is political reality I suppose. But where Pharmac is concerned?
Pharmac is ours. It is our collective means of affording drugs. A cooperative mechanism for achieving fair trade. Which is what the Giant American drug companies hate. They not only want us to buy on their terms, they think anyone who uses words like collective or cooperative is a communist. But to enable us to sell more to the States, Mike is willing to be nudged along on this. He should know by now that American politicians, driven by big business, are not primed to nudge but to gobble.
Nevertheless, Mr Moore apparently thinks if concessions are the price we have to pay to get more New Zealand beef into the American Market, so be it. But he should also know that American beef is now as cheap, and sometimes cheaper, than American vegetables. And it got that way by battery farming cattle. A practice being heavily lobbied for by New Zealand big business.
I think it would have made more sense for the government to have left Mike alone, up there in his balloon writing dozens of books about his ideas.