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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972

Costing Politics

Costing Politics


There is only one point I wish to answer from Albert Rhodes silly letter in your last issue. This is his association of cost-benefit analysis with a Muldoonian outlook, and his reasoning from this that I am really a Tory, since I teach this subject.

Cost-benefit analysis developed because of a realisation that purely financial costs and returns are inadequate for judging government programmes. A cost benefit analysis thus attempts to take account of real social and economic costs and benefits. It can hardly be associated with Muldoon whose prime emphasis is always on financial cost and who appears little concerned with the benefits of government programmes. A cost benefit analysis of the Wellington motorway would highlight the social costs caused by loss of housing. Perhaps if a proper cost benefit study of the motorway had been undertaken the motorway would never have been built. A cost benefit study of University education would attempt to measure the real gains to society from University study of all types. Muldoon seems to have concentrated on what he considers is the high financial cost of University 'failures.'

Mr Rhodes says 'cost benefit analysis went out in the nineteenth century.' In fact it dates from the 1930's and was first associated with the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt.

I invite Mr Rhodes to attend my second term lectures on this subject so that he can learn a little of what it is all about.

David Shand.