Disgusted with Listener Editorial Fail on Election Funding


Money Buys Votes. But the Listener doesn’t think so in this error filled editorial rant full of cheap rhetorical tricks and lacking in logic or relevant information.

First, it asks where is the evidence that money doesn’t buy votes. It implies there is none, as if absence of evidence disproves the case – a kindergarten-like error. Not only that, but I think the Listener confuses ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’. But that’s another story.

Happy in this logical error it makes a second, saying that because some big spenders don’t get elected, it means money can’t buy votes. This is the logical equivalent of saying some smokers don’t get cancer, therefore smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

Third, it uses the old meme that the broadcasting fee allocation entrenches established and larger parties. My reading of the Electoral Commission’s website contradicts this. The Commission in deciding the allocation considers many factors, including “any other indications of public support for that political party such as the results of public opinion polls and the number of persons who are members of that political party.”

A much better system, and the Listener should be aware of it and have discussed it, is in Australia where parties get funded after the election according to the number of votes they get.

Fourth, it says democracy is a competition and not “like the Girl Guides where everybody gets a go.” Yeah social darwinism, drink. The Girl Guides thing is a simplistic, erroneous and facile rhetorical device. The Listener fails to grasp that now that New Zealand has MMP, democracy has indeed been redefined. MMP forces cooperation, not the winner takes all approach that dominates the Listener’s flawed analysis.

By all means make philosophical arguments against public funding for election campaigns, but don’t let egregious rhetorical devices destroy the logic of your argument.

And remember YOUR VOTE COUNTS. When you skip voting it’s not rebellion, it’s surrender.

One thought on “Disgusted with Listener Editorial Fail on Election Funding

  1. Bryce Edwards 2008 paper on electoral funding http://liberation.typepad.com/files/political-finance-and-inequality-in-new-zealand.pdf [pdf] says:

    “organisational detachment of parties from their traditional supporters [due to state funding making them financially independent] has led to ideological convergence in which parties of both left and right are more inclined to come together in the mushy centre.”

    Nice rhetoric but I’d propose an alternative reason: The mushy centre comes from the power of the media promoting a paradigm which means rich get richer and to which parties must adhere at their peril.


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