I don't know Mark Hotchin, I'm neither defending nor attacking him: we simply owe it to ourselves to dispassionately understand the nature of the society we live in, and most of us would know what sort of a state practices detention without trial; well, an asset freeze with neither trial nor charge, for nineteen months, is a police state. When we smugly watch the nascent protests against Putin in Russia, and draw the obvious conclusions about that state, we are all missing the jackboots standing inside every room in New Zealand.
More and more I ask myself how can this happen? Every NBR and interest.co.nz thread about Hotchin is full of personal vitriol against the man, with no one seemingly able to grasp the desperate principles underneath his frozen life. I suspect it just shows how slavish as a society we have become behind the IRon Drape, in which the unprincipled hate of people laughing at the state-built gallows of their own lives, is part of the course in a country where a vigilante TV show consistently tops the weekly ratings.
Anyway, I paste my previous article below: Hotchin, and the end of the rule of law behind the IRon Drape in New Zealand. (Note this was first published in Lindsay Perigo's SOLO, and in that piece referred to the first version of this [now resurrected] blog).
To some, the concept of the rule of law is hard to pin down. But I don't think so. In 1610, James I of England described it thus - remembering historical context please:
Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which your majesty's subjects of this kingdom have enjoyed under your royal progenitors, kings and queens of this realm, there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by the certain rule of the law which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them, and not by any uncertain or arbitrary form of government....
As an Objectivist Libertarian, this notion of not being victim to arbitrary government - now channeling in Hotchin's case the venomous tyranny of the majority - together with the classical liberal maxim I quoted on my Lyttelton thread that all individuals have rights and responsibilities, and it is the job of the state (small s ) only to protect those rights, not to assume those responsibilities, and lastly, combined with the further ethic that a free state is grounded on the non-initiation of force or fraud principle, including particularly force of government on the governed, give the height, width and breadth of what is meant by the rule of law.
It has become clear to me, however, that New Zealand falls far short of this, and the single case of Hotchin keeps coming back as the festering sore to show the lie of it. Just under one month ago, I wrote in this blog:
Nothing attracted vitriol to my old blog Life Behind the IRon Drape more than the pieces I wrote on Mark Hotchin and Allan Hubbard (no relation). I may soon put them up again here, over December. For the coming one year anniversary I'm writing of is the freeze that was put on Mark Hotchin's assets over December, 2010. I have no idea whether Hotchin will be found wanting in respect of the laws of New Zealand, but he has now had his life frozen by the State for a year and not only has never been given the chance to defend himself in court, he's still not had a single charge laid against him.
To me, this denotes a State with far more power than I'm comfortable with, and no justice for the individual of Mark Hotchin, no matter what you think of him. The champagne thieving bureaucrats at the SFO need to charge Hotchin, or not, and give him his day in court (and unlike Mr Hubbard, don't make him have to sue to use his own money to defend himself). This isn't Putin's Russia, is it? It's New Zealand. Perhaps the difference is far less than we would all like to think.
Well, we've now reached the one year anniversary, and the only marker to this is New Zealand's new huge bureaucracy, the FMA - Financial Markets Authority - announcing that in the new year they're going to launch a civil case against Hotchin on behalf of Hanover's investors.
Wait a minute: what?
These are the questions I would like answered:
1) I contend the rule of law does not encompass the State taking a civil case, using taxpayer money, against Hanover. Surely this is outside the role of the State in a free country, as the losses borne are between Hanover and its investors: it's a private matter to those two parties, to be worked out through civil claims. The FMA should take no civil case for the same reason not one government should have bailed out one bank, and New Zealand should never have had legislated the Deposit Guarantee Scheme, with the disastrous unintended consequences it entailed. That is, just as the State and the Church were separated historically, to further the cause of freedom, so now must the state be separated from the economy and functioning of a free market, by which I mean, given the market is simply where individual needs and desires find their expression and resolution, separated from the lives of individuals, period.
2) My real concern, Mr Hotchin has had his assets frozen for over one year now, and still no criminal fraud charge has been laid, and prosecution of same would be the only appropriate role of state (which civil cases may well flow from). Nobody seems to have difficulty understanding that detention without trial is a practice that denotes the totalitarian State, not a state of freedom, well, how is Mr Hotchin having his life effectively frozen for over one year without a trial, or even a charge, any different (no matter what you might think of the man)? Does he get access to his funds to fight the State now in this civil case? Surely, even if it were legitimate the State take the civil case - it's not, but bear with me - then any criminal wrongdoing must be proven first?
To this individual, who values his freedom more than anything else, the frozen Mr Hotchin is deeply unsettling. Mixing a quotation from a famous contemporary of James I,'something is rotten in the state of New Zealand'; I wonder if we'll finally smell the truth of it after Mr Hotchin has been thawed out, whenever this arbitrary Nanny State decides on its whim to do so?
A clarification, per my post below. The SFO is still to report (I'm assuming), but that doesn't change the fact the FMA should not be making the civil claim: if the prospectuses held fabrications, then that's a criminal matter of fraud, and it's down to the SFO only. Surely that's the only legitimate role for the State? The FMA is a 'worrying' new branch of State power in New Zealand, especially when, already, less than a few months since its inception, its muddying the waters like this by taking the civil case.
[ Author can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org ]