Imagine you get a call from a guy you went to school with.
‘Remember that waterboarding we used to do as kids? I know it messed you up for life. Sorry about that. Anyway, I’ve decided to run for politics.’
Of course, it wasn’t like that. But I do wonder how that call went from a certain New Zealand MP before he decided to seek election.
An electorate should be aware of the warts they are voting for. We all have them. But what gets me with this situation is that it is now to be judged by a lawyer reviewing the case. And the leader of his party. It should have been — it should still be — up to the people of Tauranga.
But there is a more interesting idea here. Positions of power are, have always been, attractive to bullies.
I went to an all-boys school.
Not as prestigious as the one in the case mentioned, but rife with bullying.
As one of the smaller boys on entrance, I was in my initial years a victim. In my case, the impacts were mild and motivational. I had a supportive family around me. And I soon grew bigger.
Yet I know others who were irretrievably damaged.
At our school, we had two kinds of bullies: fast bullies and slow bullies.
The slow bullies couldn’t run for toffee, so you could wind them up and run away.
But it paid to avoid the fast bullies, because they could catch you and hit you on the spot.
Yet it was the slow, sly persistence of the slow bullies that got you in the end.
Today, there are new fast and slow bullies to watch out for. And they’re trying to irretrievably control your economic life.
Sadly, this has been a feature of those who have ruled human society since biblical times.
Welcome to the New Zealand ruling class
Now they exist on both the left and the right. And, just as the old-school bullies did, they seek to take power and control over your life. That’s what gets them up in the morning.
So, to begin the troubles…
Before Labour, we had eight years of a National government.
They seemed to believe the main answer to this country’s prosperity was to run a policy of very high rates of net migration.
Of course we wanted skills and diversity. That was exciting. But we needed it to be managed.
Beware of the fast bullies…
In 2008, the population was 4.2 million. And mortgage debt was around $133 billion.
Eight years later the population had shot up to 4.7 million. And mortgage debt had soared to $247.8 billion.
That’s a 12% increase in population. Yet a whopping 186% increase in mortgage debt.
By definition, those buying or owning homes in the salad years of this upswing did very nicely. Thank you.
Many of those who made fortunes in property — and appear to plan on continuing to do so — led, lead, or influence National.
But younger people today are not only priced out of the market. They are handed a situation where they may never be able to own a home. At least not in Auckland. And not without being saddled to a lifetime of debt.
Those trying to help the poor and indebted tell me one thing:
All the problems begin with housing that takes too much of people’s income.
If I had no hope of owning a home — or having a stake in society, or felt permanently saddled by debt, distress, and poverty — I may not be writing to you here.
I’d be out doing a ram raid.
Then there’s the centre-left
Last year, Labour led an idea called ‘Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters’.
Such a deceptive label. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Anyway, National thought this was a good idea too. Probably not realising that this prospect for the housing crisis sought to control people from a different direction. To prevent climate change and make housing affordable, we must densify our cities and build over our spacious suburbs.
Beware of the slow bullies…
Neighbourhood watch, North Shore. Source: Author photo
Most sites in Auckland now qualify to build three dwellings of three — or potentially four levels. Not just in the city or near town centres. Everywhere.
This is very climate-friendly, since it leaves little room to park cars. No, you must walk everywhere. Preferably with a pail to collect rain water to wash yourself.
That privilege may still cost you $1 million in Auckland.
Few of these new homes being built are affordable. And that’s because we have nearly as many lawyers as we do builders — but that’s another story.
Now, when you’re living in a cramped townhouse or apartment with no backyard and a massive mortgage, you probably won’t want to have any kids. Kids produce emissions. They’re not climate-friendly.
But surely having a Kiwi backyard with a few trees would do more to absorb emissions?
Bullied out of democracy
Now, here’s the rub. When you speak to people — or canvas opinion by any measure — the bulk of Kiwis don’t want what is being imposed on them.
They don’t want to be bullied into having their neighbourhoods turned into a bad episode of EastEnders.
They don’t want growth at all costs. And then be huddled into tiny homes so that growth may be afforded or supposedly ‘climate-friendly’.
They don’t want their children to be ultimately working to repay Australian banks. Or, indeed, feel compelled to move to Australia so that same equation may be a little more affordable.
And they don’t want political ambitions or political agendas without having all the facts on the table to consider. And vote upon.
Sold horse meat
I lived in the Jersey countryside for some years. Horses and cars would share the picturesque lanes.
When life got busy, we’d revert to frozen meals. These seemed like a great idea. A label on the front said they were vaguely nutritious.
Then the European horse meat scandal broke. Some of the meat sourced in these meals was not spicy beef as advertised. It was the meat of the horse knackers.
I don’t see a fair meal being offered to the New Zealand public by either Labour or National.
I see nicely packaged frozen meals. That could contain horse meat.
And there are few options but to vote for fast bullies. Or slow bullies.
My main concern is not which party’s fortunes to celebrate in the polls. But instead to consider which may cause the least harm to our Kiwi way of life.
Will someone offer us another choice, please?
Editor, Wealth Morning