Interesting series of quotes on the disaster that was think big.
The years of media coverage have not been kind to the “think big” projects of the early 1980s – speculated to have cost taxpayers about $7 billion.
“It’s a peculiarity of New Zealand that both our main parties have been interventionist and it was partly because time and again the private sector failed to provide.”
The private sector failed to ‘provide’ by investing in projects that lost $7bn … that is fair enough in my opinion. The question is, why did the public sector feel like we should have to throw money down the toilet as taxpayers 😉
I’m being a little facetious here of course. Rather than evaluating the loss, we need to ask if ‘ex-ante’ – given the risks and the information at the time, and given societies preferences/taste for risk, was this a good idea.
And here we have the kicker – the fact the private sector was unwilling to do it, when they would have to face the risks, suggests that it probably wasn’t a good idea to start with. Even if think big had “succeeded” it was still bad policy.
Nowadays, I like to think that we base policy on evidence and logical argument – lets hope that actually is the case.