He Changed the World for the Better

David Lange.jpg
David Lange, R.I.P.

David Lange has died. As prime minister of New Zealand, he changed much of the socialist left and, in the process, even more of the world, starting with New Zealand but extending much further. With Roger Douglas as finance minister he promoted privatization, elimination of subsidies, free trade, and much more. New Zealand, which had been a sleepy and relatively impoverished country, prospered after the heavy shackles of state controls were removed. (I recall relatives years ago describing the incredibly old cars and appliances people were forced to keep running, because tariffs were so staggeringly high.)

Additional Links: David Lange, Roger Douglas.

NOTE: If you want to know why the New Zealand experience is so important, consider two cases in which New Zealand has set an example for the world:

New Zealand has effectively eliminated agricultural subsidies and protection and shown that the agricultural sector can flourish when producing for the market, rather than for the state;

New Zealand has, with Iceland, shown the way to averting the tragedy of the commons in offshore fisheries by creating and protecting transferable property rights in the fisheries.

2 Responses to “He Changed the World for the Better”

  1. NZ was a relativly impoverised country? and the comments about old cars and appliances.
    What incredible ignorance by this person, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  2. Tom G. Palmer

    Anonymous seems not to understand the English word “relatively.” Relative to other countries similarly situated, the Kiwis were poorer and falling behind. Taxes were astonishingly high in order to support state-subsidized industries and tariffs were remarkably high, so that the cost of importing a new car (for example) was much more expensive than it should have been and than it was in other similarly situated countries. The writer suggests that the comparison is with, say, Burkina Faso. No, the comparison is with western Europe and north America, and by those standards economic performance and prosperity had fallen behind. The reductions in trade restrictions, both regionally (especially with Australia) and globally, had a positive impact on the prosperity of New Zealanders. Fortunately, the freeze on tariff rates that was instituted in 1999 is over and the movement to tariff reduction is on again.

    (A nice summary can be found at http://www.policyreview.org/apr03/darwall.html )