Off the Top of My Head
By Paul Murray
Karamea, West Coast, New Zealand: February 17, 2016
The New Zealand Minister for Economic Development the right honourable Ms Joyce Stevens announced today that given the success of recent regional austerity measures, such as the reduction in police services in remote areas and the redirection of national funds to urban areas where most voters live, that the ministry would now expand the scope of the programme to include education, emergency services, utilities, health and roading.
The ministry recently conducted an economic analysis of police services in rural regions of New Zealand and found they could significantly reduce the cost of policing the country by cancelling such services on the ground that there was insufficient crime being committed to justify maintaining a police presence.
In his report into West Coast police service delivery, Police Commandant Rob Malthusian suggested the “disestablishment” of the Karamea Police Station and the removal of a permanent police presence in the region. The community of Karamea reacted with rightful dismay to the recommendation by the commandant and a wave of antidisestablishmentarianism swept through the district as the anguished populace faced and uncertain future.
Stevens went on to say that “Using the same logic, we can now apply the process to other expensive public services to redirect public expenditure and ensure the money is available where it is most needed.” When asked to expand on that statement, Stevens said, “Well it’s simple really, if demand for such services is deemed to be insufficient, supply will fall to meet it. My ministry has determined that there is little need to maintain fire or ambulance services if there is low demand…if there aren’t enough fires, medical emergencies or accidents, it is difficult to rationalise the provision of such services and they will thus be terminated.” She went on to say that because there were insufficient numbers of illiterate children in rural New Zealand, schools would be closed and roads no longer maintained if traffic levels were low and dental services would also be cancelled if the unacceptably low level of tooth decay persisted.
Minister of Police the right honourable Mr Colin Judith when asked about the recent reduction in police services across rural New Zealand said, “Look, we have been providing nationwide police services in low crime regions for long enough, if the people living there don’t want to fully utilise the services we provide then there will eventually come a time when we can no longer justify the provision of such services….that time has come.” Judith cut short his press conference after he was injured by being hit in the face with a flying IUD, which was apparently removed and thrown at him by a disgruntled member of the assembled local press.
After the Minister was released from Westport Hospital, he met with Buller Mayor Harry Goward at the Council Chambers. The Mayor pressed him to further explain his decision to terminate police and other services in his district and Judith said,”Well look at the case of Karamea––perhaps the most remote town on mainland New Zealand––crime rates are so low there that we need to address the situation. Clearly the removal of permanent police presence in the area will serve to increase crime rates to an acceptable level and perhaps when that have been achieved, we can justifiably reinstate a police officer to meet demand.”
Goward said in a press statement that, “It seems the people of Karamea have themselves to blame for the loss of their police officer and the disestablishment of their police station, they are just too honest and law abiding.”
Karamea businessman Muzza Rongo, a known social commentator, said, “I happen to believe that the provision of essential services like police, utilities, emergency and education are the basic responsibility of government, to fail to provide such services is tantamount to criminal negligence. If democratically elected government officials neglect their most basic responsibilities, they may experience a revolutionary uprising and be replaced with actual leaders who have a vested interest in caring for their constituents and the disposition to actually honour their responsibilities and live up to the expectations of the people who helped them to power.”
However, not all agreed, retired bureaucrat Mac Cleveland said of the report, “This is a classic example of a reverse Malthusian Trap whereby a declining population meets with an abundance of public services that lead to an unacceptably high quality of life…this situation is untenable in political terms and changes need to be accepted.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jonki, who now goes by the title His Excellency, President for Life, Commander in Chief, Lord of All the Beasts of MiddleEarth and Fishes of the Seas Sir Jonki, said, “We will no longer provide services that are not being fully utilised, if you want police, commit crime, if you want medical services, spread disease, if you want emergency services, create demand, otherwise, national fiscal resources that are currently being wasted on maintenance of economically unviable ministrations will be redirected to serve more loyal and responsible citizens in urban areas and the provision of such services to rural regions will be terminated until such time as they can be warranted.”
Karamea Community spokesperson Luke Rictus and Buller Community Coordinator Howard Peters said in a joint statement that they welcomed the opportunity for anarchy and lawlessness, that they were sick and tired of legal compliance requirements and saw great opportunities for regional economic revival through graft, violence and larceny, and that they looked forward to a bright future of corruption and malfeasance for their families and cronies. Without police, emergency services and education, they saw tremendous scope for the emergence of previously unacceptable and illegal activities that will prove lucrative and provide the much needed economic stimulus required by their constituents.
Prime Minister Jonki said, “That is precisely what we seek in rural regions, it’s time for provincial yokel types to take more responsibility for their own existence. My government cannot continue to provide services to people who are just not using them, these measures will create a future demand and when it is deemed their provision is again economically viable, they may be restored,” he added.
Cant believe this is happening
What’s the world coming to?
This is the way the world shall be, topsy turvy and inverted and laconic moralism in fiscal thought by glib rhetoricians on the treasury benches of the House. Orwellian and Huxleyian in the caveats and afore warnings. Yours, Paul, is richly engaging satire, and very close to the truth. Thankyou.
You’re welcome Leo…one must find humour in the darkest of events to maintain a semblance of sanity!
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to express my opposition to the possible decision to cancel the police presence in Karamea. I recently visited the town and many residents voiced their dismay about this. This included those who might not ordinarily be expected to wish for a police presence in their lives. I would say this is a near unanimous opinion.
There are many arguments for keeping a police officer stationed in Karamea, most of which are practical issues surrounding law and order. I will confine myself here to a more philosophical point.
There are two principal views in Western political discourse as to the origins of civil society. The first is championed by Rousseau who wrote in The Social Contract that man lived in a state of nature before organised society developed. He believed that men were basically good and that this worked well and people lived peacefully. It became necessary to change this situation, however, when human life became more complex and populations grew. A decision was made to form governments which could enhance human life. Some were concerned that government might become tyrannical so, in some cases, government was strictly limited to protect human rights and other freedoms from encroachment by the state.
A second view, espoused by Hobbes, was that men were completely wild in the state of nature (ie, in contrast to Rousseau, man was essentially bad, not good) and if left to their own devices would tear each other apart (see his classic work of 1651, Leviathan. in which he postulated that life in the pre-government state of nature was a “Bellum omnium contra omnes”, or “war of all against all”, and that life was “nasty, brutish and short”). Therefore, as Hobbes saw it, a strong centralised state was required to maintain order. This state was empowered to control every aspect of its populace’s life. An all-present police force was eventually needed to ensure this happened on the ground.
The New Zealand polity conforms to the latter model (see, generally, Philip Joseph’s Constitutional and Administrative Law in NZ, on the origins of the NZ state). Some, including me, regret this, as it can lead to tyranny or majoritarian government of the sort that has characterised NZ history from time to time. However, since this is how things are in fact ordered in NZ, I think it is incumbent on government to do it properly and not take short cuts by, as may happen in this instance, failing to provide a police presence in Karamea.
We live in a Hobbesian state; so let’s do it properly and maintain a strong police presence.
Dr David Griffiths