Hello everyone, I’m James K and most of you will know me as a frequent commenter here. I’ve been asked by Erik to have a go as a full contributor at The League.
First of all, thanks to Erik and the rest of the Ordinary Gentlemen for this opportunity. I’ll try to be interesting.
But before I can be interesting, I have an issue to cover that I’ve been able to skirt as a commenter, but need to address directly as a blogger. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I’m a government employee – a policy analyst in the service of the New Zealand government. This means I have a professional obligation to abide by the Code of Conduct for the State Services, and in order to do that I need to exercise a modicum of caution in how I approach blogging:
1) Let me be clear, that I am blogging and commenting here as a private citizen, exercising his own opinions. I do not represent my Department, or any agency of the New Zealand government and nothing I say should be construed as an official position of the New Zealand Government. In fact, I’m not even going to tell you which Department I work for, ultimately it doesn’t really matter what issues I specifically work on since policy work is all much of a muchness, the details change but the basic principles do not. And I can’t go into details of my work anyway.
2) To preserve my political neutrality I will not be discussing the details of New Zealand partisan politics. I have views on the merits of my country’s various political parties, but I decline to share them. Honestly I would think the details would bore most of you anyway. After all being interested in your own country’s politics is bad enough, but only a freak would take an interest in another country’s politics ;)
3) No war stories. I have picked up a number of amusing anecdotes in my time in government and I will be telling you none of them. I have leaned quite a lot about general principles of policy formation, but I won’t be disclosing specifics.
Having said all that, here’s a few ways I think I can contribute to this fine blog:
1) I’m not American. New Zealand may be an Anglosphere nation, but we still have quite a different cultural idiom than the US (especially around politics). I hope this will give me the ability to shed new light on issues by bringing an outsider’s perspective to American debates.
2) I’m a libertarian that works for the government. That has to be worth hours of comedy gold. In seriousness, government-employed libertarians are not unheard of (Milton Friedman worked for the US government in his youth), but they are rare. I think this gives me a fairly unusual viewpoint. I care about making government work better, but at the same time I believe that often that is best done by having government focus on its core functions. I believe government is inefficient, not because government workers are too lazy to do a good job, but because no one is competent enough to do some of the jobs that are expected of modern governments. Plus some of that inefficiency exists for a good reason. Oh, and for the record, I’ve never even read anything by Ayn Rand.
3) I’m an economist, specifically I have a Master’s Degree in economics (with a specialisation in trade and environmental economics, as well as econometrics) and approach my policy work from an economist’s perspective. While I’m not entirely clued-in on the educations of the other Ordinary Gentlemen, economists are a sufficiently eccentric bunch that I thought it was worth mentioning it.
And I think that covers it. If you have any thoughts as to what you’d like me to post about, let me know in the comments. In any case, you should be hearing more from me soon.