Bourgeoise meth

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, November 21st, 2017 - 157 comments
Categories: capitalism, Economy, housing - Tags:

Housing is making us sick.

For the 120,000 Aucklanders, like me, who looked online at what their house is “officially” worth yesterday, you have again been affirmed by the state as middle class. Whether you feel like it or not, you exist in privilege.

Every neighbourhood in New Zealand’s main cities is now its own version of The Block: couples completing against each other in real life with that extra renovation, that more precise sparkle to their landscaping, to gain that extra percentage in potential equity. From that potential equity comes the ability to leverage from the banks perhaps enough to buy a second flat. From that, the rose-smelling treadmill of mortgage payments awaits you for most of your breathing life. It’s a queer definition of freedom.

And every year you gain in equity into your 60s and 70s, be assured that your partners, children and relatives are secretly waiting for you to die, so that their share of the equity is distributed to them.

With this new government forestalling any potential Capital Gains Tax or other major instrument to next term, that we might slowly down-gear our society off this core engine of the rat race, this current three-year valuation cycle is destined to rev this society ever higher for another three years.

I am no longer confident that government of whatever current combination is large or brave enough to break this cycle. We’re just too small a state now.

We have quickly lowering house ownership rates, and a housing Minister who will inevitably take some time to get the machinery up and running to build at enough volume, speed, quality and price efficiency to alter the market. Maybe if they get three terms in a row, a following wind, and the global economy never alters.

In the meantime, that three-yearly valuation we click on holds a dark whirlpool mixture of jealousy, security, aspiration, class calibration anxiety, social and physical mobility, retirement planning, rentier control, fighting over dead parents’ estates, rates escalation fear, economic lockout, argument, divorce, failure, and sheer greed.

Go on. Have a surreptitious click. It’s bourgeoise meth.

157 comments on “Bourgeoise meth”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    And then there’s we-the-renters.

  2. Mr Nobody 2

    This is an area where Labour have made a huge amount of promises and need to deliver and deliver quickly unless they’re willing to doom another generation to poor homeownership rates.

    I’ve recently been looking to move and have been shocked by the number of empty homes (about 70%) or the number of times agents have told me “its unoccupied currently but being used for air band b”. These are homes that could be being occupied by people currently living in cars and garages.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      deliver quickly

      In fact, creating things takes longer than destroying them. The neoliberals have been destroying the social and material fabric of this country since 1984.

      Any narrative that fails to acknowledge this is flawed, to put it mildly.

      What solutions do you think can be delivered “quickly”, other than law changes? “Build houses”, you can say, and at this moment there is no Ministry of Works.

      The government has proposed a range of measures including new timber processing facilities, and ‘Kiwibuild’. They’ve also pointed out the lead-in time involved. All this is published policy.

      I’m not sure how they can do this any faster except by declaring a state of emergency and commandeering empty houses.

      Suggestions on a postcard.

      • Psycho Milt 2.1.1

        Hell, I like your one: “declaring a state of emergency and commandeering empty houses. “

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          Increase rates rates on Air BNB rentals to commercial, then offer major rate rebates to people who rent out their houses long term. Interim measure.

          • Ad 2.1.1.1.1

            Queenstown Lakes District Council is proposing precisely such a measure through their District Plan Change process.

            It’s out for consultation now.

            • weka 2.1.1.1.1.1

              are they intending to offer major rates rebates?

              • Ad

                Too early to say, but I would hazard it unlikely.

                It will be a pretty significant debate for those who are retired and seeking a little rent on a month-by-month basis. Most voters are older there.

                I am not expecting any changes to those seeking to provide long-term accommodation. There is so little of it about in Wanaka and Queenstown that such a move would be untenable.

                Even as it stands the move could be seen to be protecting the hotel and b&b industry – which is honestly doing fine thanks.

                • weka

                  Not much point in forcing commercial rates on people without offering rebates because they will either shift to a business model and pay the extra rates from that, or they will just stop renting out their holiday house. Either way doesn’t increase long term rental stock. Of course it’s extra income for the councils.

                  As I understand it Air BnB is a not insignificant contributor to taking holiday houses out of the long term rental market in places like QLDC. If people want to run their holiday house as a business then let them pay commercial rates.

                  If it’s top ups to income from accommodation that otherwise wouldn’t be a long term rental (e.g. the dwelling is unsuitable because it has no fully functioning kitchen) then regulate that differently.

                  “I am not expecting any changes to those seeking to provide long-term accommodation. There is so little of it about in Wanaka and Queenstown that such a move would be untenable.”

                  Not sure what you mean there. Both those towns traditionally have had higher numbers of long term accommodation than they do now. How would regulating Air BnB etc be untenable?

                  “Even as it stands the move could be seen to be protecting the hotel and b&b industry – which is honestly doing fine thanks.”

                  Sorry, which move would be protecting Air BnB?

                • Graeme

                  “which is honestly doing fine”

                  But not doing fine enough to invest in new properties. There’s no new hotels or visitor appartments going up in Queenstown. (one “adaptable structure” at Frankton) Several trying to put a package together, but no sign of construction, just weeds on empty sites.

                  We’re just by the Novotel in central Qtn, last year at this time they were full of Americans, and good spending ones, so their yield would have been pretty good. This year their clients are from India, with a value expectation several orders of magnitude below last year’s offering. That will be at the expense of a 2 or 3 star property further out.

                  This is the first cycle I have seen here in 30 years where there hasn’t been a major hotel go up, or be refurbished, here. I’d doubt that it’ll happen now, there’s too many signs that this cycle is coming to an end.

                  • Ad

                    Where we are in Wanaka we see similar.

                    A residential boom from the Clutha mouth to the Cardrona River with longstay renters or owners, bot not new hotels or motels.

                    I’m hoping to see more hotel development in Three Parks.

                    • Graeme

                      Wanaka tends to get one new one every second cycle. It’s evidently really hard to get the numbers to work over there. But this is the first cycle I know of where there’s been no new investment in Queenstown. And it’s not due to a lack of sites, there’s plenty of really good ones.

            • Graeme 2.1.1.1.1.2

              “consultation”

              cue much wailing and renting of cloth….
              https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/changes-could-cost-jobs

              I know of one operation, now 3 x 4 bedders, employs manager / housekeeper, bought well up the market and highly leveraged. Council hasn’t caught up with them after nearly two years so still classed as residential. All the properties only have one egress, other option is a base jump, so wouldn’t get a commercial compliance. But purchase, and finance was based on the commercial use. Unwinding that is going to be interesting.

              • weka

                So that’s about resource consent rather than rates right? Why not just create a new class of regulations?

                • Graeme

                  Rates relief would just get owner occupiers putting their home into another entity, if it’s not already, and renting it off that other entity.

                  So a waste of time and subsidy to the lawyers.

                  • weka

                    are you saying it’s not possible to track that?

                    • Graeme

                      I’m saying that it would create more problems than it would solve, especially in a Queenstown context. And the community would have to pick up the cost.

                      The current 90 day rule for letting residential properties is too hard (expensive) for Council to enforce, which is why they are proposing to reduce it to 30. But visitor accomodation is already a discretionary activity in low density residential zone, so the District Plan anticipates the conflict that occurs, it’s just that the 90 day exemption, which came in to mollify the crib owners that couldn’t afford the costs of their holiday home years ago, is very difficult and expensive to enforce.

                      10 or 20 years ago we had a lot of really grotty old housing stock that housed our min wage workers. That’s all gone now, either flattened for an empty site, or re-developed. A lot was owned by the big employers for staff accom, that got the flick in the neo-lib revolution. The Housing Trust is doing some really good work, but needs to get into large scale rental stuff to make a real impact. That’s not far away.

                      I expect to see a real change here in the next 5 years with housing developments in Gorge Road (old High School) and Frankton. The new public transport initiative will be a game changer as well, if they can get it to critical mass without the costs getting out of control.

          • JanM 2.1.1.1.2

            Good idea – Barcelona has been so negatively affected by Air BNB that it has had to take strong steps so the locals can still live there!

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.2

          Given that this would be reported as a wholesale attack on property rights, I’m not sure the government would survive the backlash.

          • Mr Nobody 2.1.1.2.1

            If they can’t deal to the problem they risk that anyway as people who have voted this time round who become disillusioned are likely to simply remove themselves from the electoral process.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.2.1.1

              I think there’s a significant risk they’ll be too timid. Take the minimum wage: $20 by 2020 is a much smaller rise than Seattle achieved in about two-thirds of the time.

              From memory, following their example, our min. wage could go up to $25/h by 2019.

              I suppose the question is: if the steps they’re prepared to take are working too slowly, will they start taking longer steps?

      • Bill 2.1.2

        The postcard.

        Abolish accommodation supplement at the first opportunity.
        Legislate on squatters rights.
        Requisition empty properties to take the strain off the current state of homelessness.

        That top one would probably result in many landlords finding that their little earner wasn’t earning any more. Would that then result in a glut and falling prices in the housing market?

        Some people would, I guess, have to resign themselves to the fact their house was now their home and that they’d paid over the odds for it. Worse things happen.

        p.s. Weather stunning.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1

          I agree with all those. Clare Curran’s remarks on squatters’ rights notwithstanding, I wonder how bad the situation would have to become before Cabinet even considered them.

          Edit. Re: the weather, I am unaccountably reminded of PJ O’Rourke:
          “If the outdoors is so swell, how come homeless people aren’t more fond of it?”

          • Bill 2.1.2.1.1

            I think I might be correct in saying that squatters rights aren’t usually granted, but are drawn up in response to an on-going situation of illegal or unlawful occupation.

            So maybe the question is one of how bad the situation has to become before people just start doing it and/or, perhaps crucially, the relevant NGOs clamber aboard and present it to clients as a viable option (even if it’s initially done with a nod and a wink as it were).

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Section 155 of the Land Transfer Act:

              A person may apply to the Registrar for the creation of a record of title in the name of the person as the owner of the freehold estate in land that is subject to this Act if—
              (a)
              a record of title has been created for the estate or a Crown grant for the land has been registered under the Land Transfer Act 1952; and
              (b)
              the person has been in adverse possession of the land for a continuous period of not less than 20 years and continues in adverse possession of the land; and
              (c)
              the possession would have entitled the person to apply for a title to the freehold estate in the land if the land were not subject to this Act.

              My bold.

              • Bill

                I guess that’s the piece of legislation some in the past used to claim ownership of property that rates hadn’t been paid on for 20 years.

                Pay the back rates, et voila. Apparently.

                • patricia bremner

                  Bill, this was common in mining towns. Pay the miner’s right or the rates to own the land. Waihi had this 50 yrs ago to my personal knowledge.

        • weka 2.1.2.2

          “Abolish accommodation supplement at the first opportunity.”

          How would beneficiaries afford rent and mortgage payments?

          • Bill 2.1.2.2.1

            Maybe many wouldn’t. Perhaps even most wouldn’t. What practical measures do you reckon could be taken in response?

            Eviction notices that can be safely ignored because the tenancy tribunal or whatever else is heaving, way down under “that” sea of notifications?

            Send out the bailiffs? I don’t know how many bailiffs there are in NZ, but I’d punt it’s somewhere in the region of “nowhere near enough”. And anyway. Bailiffs are easily stopped.

            Maybe an order would go out to seize monies from wages and welfare payments. But again. Processes snap under volumes. And the back-lash to that could be interesting.

            But we can put all that and ay possible escalation aside because governments are in the business of managing. So as I’ve said on many previous occasions, abolition of accommodation supplements comes hand in hand with squatters rights 😉

            edit – it’s pinpointing the opportunity that’s key. Another GFC or something having a similar effect on NZ as the GFC did elsewhere would be a good time I reckon.

            • weka 2.1.2.2.1.1

              “What practical measures do you reckon could be taken in response?”

              Raise benefits and wages. Reinstate Special Benefit. Make it obvious that it’s better for the economy to subsidise poor people than the rentier class.

              I think going down the squatters rights path puts us firmly in the major backlash against the government category 😉

              • Bill

                You raise benefits and wages to the extent they’d have to be bumped up in that scenario and NZ absolutely gets huge rates of inflation.

                How many people you reckon would be adversely affected by squatter’s rights? It’s much, much fewer than those who are currently affected by insanely high rents.

                So maybe the government should be presented with a developing scenario and invited to choose its backlash. 👿

                • weka

                  “You raise benefits and wages to the extent they’d have to be bumped up in that scenario and NZ absolutely gets huge rates of inflation.”

                  I’m not sure about that. Isn’t the amount of money flowing still the same? it’s just instead of it being via AS it’s direct?

                  Putting a cap on rents would make sense too.

                  “How many people you reckon would be adversely affected by squatter’s rights?”

                  If I lost accommodation supplement and couldn’t pay the rent I am paying now, I’m pretty sure I’d have to move. The landlords would find someone else to pay off their mortgage. If I squatted, I’d still have to move when the bank took possession of the house and sold it in a mortgagee sale. So would squatting rights trump banks too?

                  • Bill

                    Unless you were suggesting wages are hiked by government subsidising employers, then employers will hike prices to protect profit margins.

                    And increasing benefit levels is effectively just increasing the level of accommodation supplement …which landlords (or many) will gouge you for.

                    If you were the only person not paying rent you’d be homeless. Refer to my previous comment about the impact of volume…we’re not talking about things unfolding in anything like the current situation.

                    A property changing hands doesn’t necessarily have to affect the right to squat. So it might be the case the banks can run with a mortgagee sale if they want and nothing changes. (That’s been the case in Spain where people have found a “work-around”) And again, as before, the weight of numbers crushing down on systems of process.

                    And yes. In whatever scenario, rent caps.

                    • weka

                      How does a beneficiary getting an extra $50 in their base benefit as opposed to $50 via AS contribute to inflation?

                      I think what you are proposing re squatting would cause a lot of disruption. Whether that’s worse than the current situation I don’t know but it’s worth considering.

                      “If you were the only person not paying rent you’d be homeless. Refer to my previous comment about the impact of volume…we’re not talking about things unfolding in anything like the current situation.”

                      My landlords would have no problem finding someone who could pay the rent here if I couldn’t. Anywhere there is a rental shortage, which is lots of places, that’s going to be a no-brainer for the landlords. Or in my case they just sell or come home. What they’re not going to do is default on their mortgage payments if they can help it.

                      So I’m not quite following the impact of volume thing. Yes, over time it would no doubt even out. In the meantime lots of stress and disruption. Am thinking particularly of people with babies, kids in schools, people who aren’t well enough to move, people who are dependent on their existing immediate social networks.

                      I agree with you about the need for people to start squatting and the law will follow. Am surprised it doesn’t happen here more often tbh, especially in Chch after the quakes. Maybe there is a cultural thing, a difference from the UK or Europe, around what is fair?

                    • Bill

                      Maybe ask the question of someone who has made that claim.

                    • weka

                      Made what claim?

          • Siobhan 2.1.2.2.2

            Rent should be, at the very least, market driven. As a business person you charge the amount your customers can afford. Who else gets to charge like a wounded bull and have the taxpayer subsidise their business because their product is overpriced?
            Low wage earners can clearly no longer be left to the mercy of landlords, renters need the option of saying…”I can clearly not afford this rent without a Government subsidy…I will move to a State House”.
            Eventually slum lords will be stuck with unaffordable empty properties, which they will have to sell, allowing low income workers and families to own their own house.
            Accommodation allowance and insulation subsidies etc are like e-cigarettes for Landlords, they don’t actually stop the addiction or dampen the need for more, more ,more….

            • weka 2.1.2.2.2.1

              If you take away AS you immediately plunge huge numbers of people deeper into poverty. So to remove AS needs a plan. I’ve not yet seen one that looks doable.

              Not everyone can move to a state house. Nor should people be economically coerced into doing so. I have no objection to the state buying properties from landlords, but even then there are still going to be issues.

              • Siobhan

                oh, entirely, a plan is needed.
                My idea is a MASSIVE state housing plan, including creative public/private/state combinations.
                Currently and for the foreseeable future State Housing is not an option for most people, I know from first hand experience, over 15 years ago, that being homeless is not enough in itself to get anywhere near the waiting list.
                There needs to be a royal Commision (or something equally important sounding) into housing, and not one that has its focus on mainly ‘affordable’ housing, but one that has a multi faceted plan to house ALL people in a way that offers some level of security, stability and dignity.

                Meantime we hand out more increases in Accommodation Allowances, and increases in the minimum wage, and its makes the average citizen think we are dealing with the problem..when in actual fact ALL that increase goes straight to landlords and leaves low mid and low level renters in an increasingly worse situation, with each year a greater proportion of their income required to pay rent.

                You have to break some eggs to make an omelet, and if we don’t take some hard actions soon its only going to be more brutal for the generations following.

            • Michael 2.1.2.2.2.2

              Housing is not a commodity. It is a need for which market solutions have demonstrably failed. I think rents for all residential tenancies should be capped at no more than 25 percent of the household’s income. That would immediately lead to a stampede by greedy landlords and a corresponding dive in unearned wealth from over-inflated property values. Housing NZ (Mark II) could then step in, purchase the now-surplus homes and rent them to the tenants as a social welfare agency. Problem solved.

        • Zorb6 2.1.2.3

          Great ideas.Zero chance of happening,because real ‘free market’ forces cannot cope without subsidies.

      • In fact, creating things takes longer than destroying them. The neoliberals have been destroying the social and material fabric of this country since 1984.

        Any narrative that fails to acknowledge this is flawed, to put it mildly.

        QFT

        National have dug us into a huge hole. Of course, it was Labour that started digging that hole and they’re both still following the same failed ideology (neo-liberalism) that started the digging.

        What solutions do you think can be delivered “quickly”, other than law changes? “Build houses”, you can say, and at this moment there is no Ministry of Works.

        And Labour will probably still reach for the private sector solution as they did when they first started building houses in 1935 and reached out to Fletchers.

        I’m not sure how they can do this any faster except by declaring a state of emergency and commandeering empty houses.

        Which is probably what they should be doing. Use it or lose it needs to be part of the law. An empty house is not being used.

  3. CLEANGREEN 3

    Well said ADVANTAGE.

    I lived in Toronto when the last housing bubble broke in 1991 and lost our house too.

    So it will hapen here sooner or later for sure.

    “this current three-year valuation cycle is destined to rev this society ever higher for another three years.
    I am no longer confident that government of whatever current combination is large or brave enough to break this cycle. We’re just too small a state now.”

  4. Excellent assessment, thank you.

    I just wish those of us who rotting in the darklands disabled and poor, those of us who older (I’m 52) and have watched neo-liberal terrorists take over our country and destroy our culture would get the justice and voice we need to change things.

    I agree govt have completely missed the boat on how serious and damaging neo-liberalism and housing crisis is to society. How it creates dissension, envy & hate (which our National Anthem promised govt wouldn’t do) how it creates violence, addiction and suicide as well. Its all over international media, New Zealand are known for implementing neo-liberal free-market and the extreme social problems it caused – ie highest rate of child suicide in OECD, highest rate of homelessness, highest rate of family violence & women self-harming.

    Everybody reading this REMEMBER – to be part of a democracy doesn’t mean voting every three years – you MUST go and see your MP – you MUST make an appointment and look them in the eye – tell them what you think and what they should be doing for you and NZ. Also write letters to ministers etc & letters to the editor, write to stupid media when they say stupid things – they’ve all got email addresses.

    Kia kaha and aroha to us all

    • Bill 4.1

      On the writing letters to a local mp front…

      I can’t quite remember where I picked this up, but don’t send an email. (trash cans never fill.)

      Send single sided letters that seek a response.

      New Zealand’s quite a small country (population density wise) – so it doesn’t take too much of an effort to create an impression. Form a writing circle? Engage in recruitment so that the same names and return addresses don’t keep popping up?

    • Rosemary McDonald 4.2

      “You MUST go and see your MP – you MUST make an appointment and look them in the eye – tell them what you think and what they should be doing for you and NZ. Also write letters to ministers etc & letters to the editor, write to stupid media when they say stupid things – they’ve all got email addresses.”

      I got an email yesterday from someone who did just this recently.

      This was pertaining to a long running successful Human Rights case that the Previous Incumbents had chosen to legislate into NZBORA darklands.

      Pertaining to an issue that Labour had specifically listed as an injustice they would address and repeal the legislation, both in the 2014 and 2017 election campaign.

      Email sender had approached Labour and NZ First MPs….and was told to take the matter to their electorate MP…who is National.

      The Labour and NZ First MPs are both extremely high up in the coalition.

      Too busy for the little people it seems.

      • Email sender had approached Labour and NZ First MPs….and was told to take the matter to their electorate MP…who is National.

        Too busy for the little people it seems.

        Oh, FFS.

        Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised. Go to a Green MP. They will at least listen and try to get it changed.

  5. vto 5

    it’s not housing that’s the problem

    it’s debt

    yet

    nobody dares speak to this

    debt dealer drug dealer

    • +111

      And that debt could, and should, be written off.

      • Lara 5.1.1

        I’ve seen this comment before, and I just can’t tell you how much I am vehemently opposed to this idea.

        Debt is taken on as a choice. Willingly. No one is forced to take on debt.

        Every time Auckland valuations rise (now happening in other parts of NZ too) plenty of people feel richer, and go off to the bank to borrow more against the house to buy more crap they don’t need. To put in a new kitchen. To buy a new car. A new jet-ski.

        When the shit hits the fan these people are going to be over leveraged. If they lose an income they may be forced to sell the house.

        There is just no fucking way those people should be bailed out by the rest of us. No way.

        As a saver who is prudent, careful, hard working and debt averse, there is NO WAY I’m going to be happy to bail out debtors. No way.

        Every bubble in the history of bubbles is driven by debt. And fuelled by the emotion of greed. Pure greed. I do not think that greed should be rewarded by a free pass.

        And if you write off the debt for the over priced house? The BMW, the jet-ski and the kitchen? Then those people learn absolutely nothing about leverage or risk. Prices of houses are unlikely to fall in that scenario. Property will not become more affordable for renters. The landlords will just get a free pass.

        • Molly 5.1.1.1

          “I’ve seen this comment before, and I just can’t tell you how much I am vehemently opposed to this idea.”

          Except the decision to consciously remove equity from people’s assets is different when it is housing. It is not a nice to have, like your examples of BMW, jet-ski or updated kitchen.

          We have borrowed against our house, because in the last ten years we have spent over $25.000 on orthodontics, or required a replacement used car. These are capital purchases and expenses impossible to put aside when you use over 50% of your income to service the mortgage. But our other option of renting leaves us with less choice, as rentals for a family of six (plus at times) would take close to 70%.

          Landlords already have the ability to write off the capital loss through the business, it is homeowners who reside in their houses that need to be compensated.

          A solution: Create new Housing NZ loans for existing owner/occupiers and have a maximum amount that can be borrowed by region. Owner/occupiers can then borrow this amount at a very low interest rate, eg 0.5%, while retaining their current payments – which they can manage. They still pay off the original amount of loan but the change in interest rate means that their term of loan is much reduced and will absorb the financial shock of losing equity.

          “As a saver who is prudent, careful, hard working and debt averse, there is NO WAY I’m going to be happy to bail out debtors. No way.”
          Take yourself out of the story, and ask yourself if this is what is limiting your view on solutions. Given the state of wages, the high level of debt is not a surprise. If you have managed to save in your situation – good for you. But not everyone is in “your” situation. You can’t universally extend your choices to encompass the population, because support systems and opportunities are so different.

          You also seem to believe that anyone that owns a house has been involved in creating the cycle that has led to housing inflationary pressures. Even for those who have participated in flipping, and benefited from it – this is not true. It is a failure of legislation, taxation, planning and immigration policies alongside suppressed wages that has created this situation.

          Many people – owning or renting – just want to have a home, and the community alongside. They have not benefited by their transient neighbourhoods, or empty houses, and that should be considered when coming up with a solution.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2

          People go down to the bank to get a mortgage. The bank creates the money to ‘loan’ them. This new money filters into to the economy increasing demand for services and other stuff. In other words, it drives the economy.

          The first problem is that there’s no limits to how much money can be created by the banks and so there’s always more debt available.

          The second problem is that by paying off all those debts the traditional way means that there’s then there’s no money left in the economy and the economy crashes.

          The third problem is that, when the bubble does burst, some politicians will find some way to bail out the rich and start the process again. The poor will, of course, be the ones who pay for this. In other words, just like the GFC. This will happen, make no mistake about that. Everyone was pissed off about the government bailing out SCF and even paying out the interest but it still happened.

          Now, what the government can do is create the money and buy out all those mortgages and take ownership of all those houses. All the debt is gone but the money is still in the system so doesn’t crash the economy. At the same time the government stops the ability of the banks from creating money so that there’s no more unlimited money on demand.

          This will slow down the economy. Left too long and the economy will collapse as the rich take everything for themselves.

          But an important thing would have happened: All the debt based money and the private banks ability to create it would be gone.

          Now, because of the way that our present system works which filters all the money to the top the government will have to do either of two things:

          1. Tax the bejeezus out of the rich so that money no longer accumulates at the top
          2. Start creating money and dish it out to the poor so that the economy keeps functioning either as a UBI or as guaranteed work or some combination of the two

          The best option would probably be some combination of the two. We really do need to get rid of the rich because the rest of us simply cannot afford them.

          • greg 5.1.1.2.1

            Steve keen has done a lot work on a debt jubilee .truth is alot of those loans shouldn’t have been made in the first place, i can understand where lara is coming from if a debt right off is to work it has to be universal. we have a debt right off system its called bankruptcy.

            • Molly 5.1.1.2.1.1

              ” i can understand where lara is coming from if a debt right off is to work it has to be universal.”
              It is if your concern is protecting people’s equity, whether or not they need it.

              If, however, it is to be used as a tool to alleviate the cost to owner-occupiers if a truly effective housing deflation policy is brought in, then a considered non-universal approach is appropriate.

              Too much emphasis on housing is about the financial benefits, and not about the need to “house”.

              The benefits of reducing housing costs are easy to see. Those who have high leverage on one house will be the ones hit the hardest. They are the middle of the road, just barely scraping through – but meeting none of the criteria for support, and having none of the capital to ease the loss.

              If you own a home outright the loss of equity won’t be a problem, you still own that house. If you are an investor, then the drop will be in accumulated equity that allowed you to own more than one property. If you are from overseas, you already have a place to live.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2.1.2

              i can understand where lara is coming from

              So can I but we need to fix the system at the same time so that it doesn’t happen again.

              You’ll note that I said that the government buys out the mortgage. The idea is that the government takes ownership of the house and the people living there get a state home.

              Crashing the housing market isn’t a problem if the government is the one that ends up with all the houses and no one has any debt.

              • greg

                i think when the house of cards falls the fall out will overwhelm the government private debt in NZ is a basket case the banks will have a lot to answer for there reckless lending has put even the debt free at risk.

  6. Bill 6

    Capturing the hopeless idiocy and desperation quite nicely there Ad 🙂

    The neighbours are out to “get you”. Your own children are out to “get you”. And the smell of the antiseptic in the old folks home is probably what will “get you” if nothing else does.

  7. jcuknz 7

    I have my doubts about writing letters/e-mails.
    Firstly I remember the joy one such letter arose in a media staff member when somebody wrote crit_ing the organisation … “What on earth does this fool know about our work”
    More recently several letters written to the PM which were simply re-directed to the fool minister responsible…. all rather pointless IMO.

    • Ad 7.1

      It’s barbeque season again.
      If you’ve been an election activists, get along to one of the usual end-of-year shindigs and bail them up.

      Failing that, make an actual time to see the MP.

    • Rosemary McDonald 7.2

      “….were simply re-directed to the fool minister responsible….”

      Not Messrs Ryall and Coleman by any chance?

  8. OnceWasTim 8

    “And every year you gain in equity into your 60s and 70s, be assured that your partners, children and relatives are secretly waiting for you to die, so that their share of the equity is distributed to them.”

    Oh bugger! I passed my equity on a few years back whilst in my 50’s in the knowledge my partner, children and grandchildren would assist as I entered my dotage.
    I should’ve waited and accumulated a few more treats and trinkets on credit (guaranteed by my equity) so I could take them with me to the other side.

  9. David Mac 9

    Making squatting viable creates as many problems as it solves. We’re on a march to improve the standards of rental properties, it saves lives.

    Rather than exorbitant motel rooms can WINZ staff seeking an emergency home for a family book them into an Air bnb property? There is little screening done, book online with a credit card.

    Don’t kick the Air bnb cash cow, clamber on.

    There will of course be a backlash “Ewwwwww, I don’t want them in my lovely little apartment.”

    ‘Too bad, we don’t discriminate in NZ and you’re marketing the place as available.’

    When letting a property the conventional way in NZ it is illegal to discriminate on any level other than 2 exceptions. Pets and smoking. Anything else: Ethnicity, family size, financial status, appearance etc etc: Illegal.

    • Bill 9.1

      What problems does squatting create? And who does it create problems for?

      Given the second part of your first paragraph, I’m inclined to assume you picture squats as squalid and run down pieces of shit. That’s very far from the truth of the matter. I’ve been in some truly amazing squats in my time (Holland and England) and with squats, there almost inevitably comes a squatters community.

      Available properties have to be known about (listed) and legal advise dispensed. That’s the start. And from there it becomes a network that gives you access to such things as plumbing skills or electrical skills, should they be needed. And sure. Nothing’s necessarily certified and meters are sometimes by-passed and what have you.

      In the remainder of your comment, you’re overlooking the fact that custom does not have to be accepted. And as long as the person refusing the custom isn’t daft enough to furnish a reason that might lay them open to accusations of discrimination (and no reason need be given), then they can accept or reject whatever custom they want.

      • David Mac 9.1.1

        Enabling squats would become a seething mess of property rights litigation and general friction. Half of the places around me are empty for much of the year. I can forsee problems we don’t currently face if Tony and his plumber mates arrive at his family fishing bach to discover a crew moved in x 50.

        You have a soft spot for squats, that’s cool. as solutions go, I feel we should aim higher.

        I’m not entirely against…..there’s this unoccupied rundown character laden mansion on the beach…..

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          finding ways to differentiate between holiday houses and investment properties that are just left standing empty would be a good thing to do. I suspect whether the power is connected or not would be a good indicator.

          • Molly 9.1.1.1.1

            Speaking about this yesterday with a friend. People may leave power on in an empty house, but water usage would be another indicator of occupancy.

            • weka 9.1.1.1.1.1

              +1 although lots of places don’t have metered water.

              I’m sure local govt could set up registers too. If your house isn’t using water and/or power (or whatever) then please register it as one of the following (holiday home, investment property, long term rental, short term rental etc). Then regulate around that accordingly e.g. you can’t leave an investment property empty for longer than x months.

              • although lots of places don’t have metered water.

                Which should be illegal. Water is a very important and limited resource and so we actually do need to know how much is used.

                Then regulate around that accordingly e.g. you can’t leave an investment property empty for longer than x months.

                Use it or lose it.

                Don’t call it an investment property though as that’s going provide loopholes. Apply it to all housing. If it’s not being used, is not for rent at market rates, then the government renationalises it without compensation.

                Make it so that it’s uneconomic to leave places empty.

                • Gareth

                  Why would you meter rain tanks? Or a spring that bubbles out of a cliff face on your property and runs into a lake?

                  What purpose would that serve?

                  • It’s part of the need for sustainability. We can’t make ourselves sustainable without knowing. It’s that same lack of knowledge that has brought about the anthropogenic climate change and the ongoing destruction of vast swathes of eco-systems to make us ‘rich’.

                    You’ll note that that spring feeds a river and without the water from it the river dies.

                    Why do you think that people should just be able to do whatever the fuck they want without considering the effects of their actions?

                    • David Mac

                      The water goes round and round. The glass Gareth drank today will fall at the head of Fox glacier tomorrow. Being a dirty rotter in the cycle is where we introduce problems.

                      If we’re sticking a meter on Gareth’s tank, that fresh air he breathes doesn’t come cheap. Do you think we should be measuring the air we breathe and clipping the ticket Draco?

                    • Gareth

                      We can make ourselves sustainable without measuring the volume of water that flows out of a rain tank.
                      Lack of knowledge about how much water flows down every pipe in existence didn’t cause climate change. That was caused by burning fossil fuels and releasing something into the air that hadn’t been there for many millions of years.
                      If I was taking the water in that rain tank out of the local water cycle by bottling it or using a chemical reaction to make it not water, then fair enough to meter it, but watering the garden with it, or showering in it and having it go into the drains doesn’t remove it from the cycle.
                      Why do I think people should be able to do whatever they want? That’s a stupid looking strawman you’ve made there… My reply is “An it harm none, do what ye will”

                    • The water goes round and round. The glass Gareth drank today will fall at the head of Fox glacier tomorrow.

                      Nice myth but do note that it is a myth. Our lakes and rivers are drying up because too much water is being taken from them. Our ancient aquifers are also declining and for the same reason.

                      Do you think we should be measuring the air we breathe and clipping the ticket Draco?

                      I didn’t say anything about clipping the ticket did I? I just said that we need to measure it.

                      Our rivers and aquifers are going dry because we’re taking more than what is returned to them through natural cycles. To balance them out we need to measure how much goes and how much goes out.

                      This will give a net amount that we can use. And, yes, at that point it may, if we maintain a market system, be the right thing for the government to charge for the use of that scarce resource.

                    • We can make ourselves sustainable without measuring the volume of water that flows out of a rain tank.

                      No, we can’t. That water would normally be part of the natural cycle. By putting it in the tank it no longer is.

                      Lack of knowledge about how much water flows down every pipe in existence didn’t cause climate change. That was caused by burning fossil fuels and releasing something into the air that hadn’t been there for many millions of years.

                      It was lack of knowledge by the general population. Some people actually had concerns about it a couple of centuries ago.

                      It’s a similar lack of knowledge that we have now concerning water.

                      Why do I think people should be able to do whatever they want? That’s a stupid looking strawman you’ve made there… My reply is “An it harm none, do what ye will”

                      Maintaining your blatant ignorance is not how you harm none.

                      Really, I would have expected better from someone who quotes Wiccan scripture.

                    • Gareth

                      “No, we can’t. That water would normally be part of the natural cycle. By putting it in the tank it no longer is.”

                      Putting it in a tank is like building a dam. It introduces a delay, no more. It definitely does not permanently remove it from the water cycle.

                      “It was lack of knowledge by the general population. Some people actually had concerns about it a couple of centuries ago.”

                      I’d say it was more than a lack of knowledge. It was a few knowledgeable people making very little noise about the downsides that were speculative and far off, next to a lot of people making a lot of noise about the upsides of discovering the most energy-dense fuel in history. Again, this is not equivalent to not knowing what the volume of every rain tank in existence is.

                      “Maintaining your blatant ignorance is not how you harm none.”

                      A second straw man in a row… you’ve got lots of those don’t you. Unfortunately both of your straw men assume a position on my part that I have not taken.

                      “Really, I would have expected better from someone who quotes Wiccan scripture.”

                      Fortunately I’m under no obligation to fulfill your expectations.

                    • Putting it in a tank is like building a dam. It introduces a delay, no more. It definitely does not permanently remove it from the water cycle.

                      It alters the water cycle which affects the environment. If we do not measure it then we will not know what those affects are.

                      I’d say it was more than a lack of knowledge. It was a few knowledgeable people making very little noise about the downsides that were speculative and far off, next to a lot of people making a lot of noise about the upsides of discovering the most energy-dense fuel in history. Again, this is not equivalent to not knowing what the volume of every rain tank in existence is.

                      Yes, it is equivalent. In both cases people are acting ignorance without thought for the consequences.

                      A second straw man in a row… you’ve got lots of those don’t you. Unfortunately both of your straw men assume a position on my part that I have not taken.

                      It’s not a strawman at all and you have taken a position to maintain ignorance. An ignorance that will cause harm.

                      Fortunately I’m under no obligation to fulfill your expectations.

                      By proving that you’re an ignorant RWNJ you just fulfilled my expectations of you. I’m certain that you didn’t even know that you were quoting religious scripture (in so far as Wicca has scripture) and thought it was just a great Libertarian thing to say.

                    • Gareth

                      “It alters the water cycle which affects the environment. If we do not measure it then we will not know what those affects are.”

                      Hmm.. that sounds like you’re backing down a bit. Previously you said “That water would normally be part of the natural cycle. By putting it in the tank it no longer is.” Is it no longer part of the natural cycle or is it still part of the natural cycle but altered, eg. delayed as a dam does. Or are you going to go with the purist line that once humans touch it, it’s no longer natural?

                      “Yes, it is equivalent. In both cases people are acting ignorance without thought for the consequences.”

                      And yet people knew about climate change… have you considered that people know about things like rain tanks that have been used since the stone age and have already considered their impact and the lack of a need to measure them precisely?

                      “It’s not a strawman at all and you have taken a position to maintain ignorance. An ignorance that will cause harm.”

                      You say that, ironically, without any knowledge of my ignorance or lack of it. Extrapolating grand damning statements from a blog past is a dangerous and futile past-time.

                      “By proving that you’re an ignorant RWNJ you just fulfilled my expectations of you. I’m certain that you didn’t even know that you were quoting religious scripture (in so far as Wicca has scripture) and thought it was just a great Libertarian thing to say.”

                      Here is an example of what I was just saying.. plus you lose the argument when you resort to name-calling. Right-wing nut job? Please…. you get my political orientation 180 degrees wrong and what’s worse is you’re simply unimaginative. An acronym? Call me an abydocomistic scobberlotcher if you must (although you’d still be wrong), but don’t be so lazy.

                      As it happens, in all your certainty, you are just plain wrong, and about more than just my religious and political inclinations. I do know what the rede is and it is almost the antithesis of libertarianism as hopefully you are also aware.

                      Regardless of all other points, if you’re going to descend into name-calling when I have been polite in my disagreement, I take it as a sign that you have nothing productive left to say and so there’s no point continuing to discuss it with you.

                • Molly

                  “Water is a very important and limited resource and so we actually do need to know how much is used.”
                  If we really considered water to be an important resource, we would use our R&D to create septic systems that don’t use up to 6 litres of treated potable water to flush away our wastes, and by doing so create anaerobic habitats that stop the breakdown of said wastes.

                  There was also planning restrictions that required you to add your roofwater/stormwater to the municipal system, adding to the overload. Further back you could have a soakpit to return the water to your own land, but that sometimes caused issues with neighbouring properties when it didn’t work as planned.

                  Having just applied for a building addition in a rural area with no connection to water or sewerage, the plans included an estimate of water collection to our tank, so that information is likely to already be in local government hands.

                  • If we really considered water to be an important resource, we would use our R&D to create septic systems that don’t use up to 6 litres of treated potable water to flush away our wastes, and by doing so create anaerobic habitats that stop the breakdown of said wastes.

                    Propelair

                    Propelair is a new type of toilet technology that delivers high performance by blending air and water to create a powerful, highly efficient flush and reduce water use on average by 84%.

                    The system needs just 1.5 litres of water for each flush – compare that with the traditional cisterns that use 9 litres on average.

                    Actually, if the government was doing their job they’d mandate that all new toilets use less than 2 litres of water for a full flush. This would incentivise the R&D. As there’s already an existing model we know it can be done.

                    This is where the government setting standards comes in. Done well it would push R&D.

                    Our government doesn’t do it well as it listens to business that prefer not to do the expensive stuff (R&D) while also making super profits while doing the least that they can persuade the government is necessary. This latter is how we ended up with Leaky Buildings.

                    • Molly

                      That actually is a huge reduction for a water based system.

                      Going even lower-tech:
                      I visited a property in the Otamatea eco-village where the owner had designed and installed a sawdust composting system.

                      He had been using it for several years and the addition of sawdust, and technique of leaving behind a starter of bacteria and worms when he removed the compost every six months, created an ideal place for the breakdown of solids. Urine was removed (and used as a liquid fertiliser on trees).

                      When he opened the door on the collection tank, the same was just really good compost. He had a family of five living in the house.

      • marty mars 9.1.2

        Just look at all the issues around freedim camping – squatters would generate that and more imo. This isnt the netherlands or england – different norms prevail here for whatever reason.

        • Bill 9.1.2.1

          Not seeing any correlation between freedom camping and squatting.

          And you’re right that this isn’t the Netherlands, or England, or Canada, or the US or Denmark or any of the other hundreds of countries throughout the America’s, Africa and Asia where squatting has been or is a reality. Except… 😉

          An alleged ‘squatter’ has made himself at home in a multi million-dollar Wellington house and is refusing to leave, despite it being on the market.

          The property, formally owned by accountants David Rowley and Barrie Skinner who are now in prison on tax fraud convictions, is due to be sold in a mortgagee sale in the next two weeks.

          The tattooed Maori man has erected a Tino Rangatiratanga flag in the window of the McFarlane St home, which overlooks the city and Oriental Bay. (2012)

          edit – and I know people who’ve successfully squatted in Dunedin.

          • marty mars 9.1.2.1.1

            Maybe you neex to be in an area where freedom camping is an issue. A lot of those issues stem from people thinking those people should pay. Similar issues for squatters .imo. I don’t support squatters which is a different issue to indigenous rights.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.2.1.1.1

              How exactly would one go about identifying a squatter, in the absence of an owner?

              • I’m in the country but other people would tell on them here. We have Tata with 60% holiday homes – they have prop managers.

                There is a strong feature of kiwiheads – they aren’t cool if someone gets something for free that they’ve had to or still are, paying for. At least imo here in the country.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The absence of the owner includes the owner’s agents such as property managers.

                  Probably not a particularly common thing in the country, but in an urban situation?

                  • As ive just indicated to weka – i dont think i know enough about this subject, so im going to stop talking and do some more readinf, thanks for your patience.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I think you have it right: most Kiwis will be uncomfortable with the idea that their neighbours might be squatters.

                      Then again, someone who moves into and cleans up an otherwise derelict and deteriorating property is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

                      In the context of putting homeless families into ‘ghost houses’ I think people might see the common sense in it.

            • weka 9.1.2.1.1.2

              I’ve lived in areas where freedom camping is an issue, still not seeing the connection with squatting unless you are suggesting squatters will human waste and trash around the place?

              • They are doing things for free is the connection.

                • weka

                  You said above the issues between freedom campers and squatters is similar. I’m still not sure what the issues are. People bring annoyed that’s someone gets something for nothing? That can be remedied by squatters paying a fair rent.

                  • I mustn’t understand what squatters are, i didn’t think they paid anything. Sorry.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      No, you have it right. Squatters who have the aim of having a good home will of course perform maintenance, cultivate a section, and so-on. That’s why, to the casual observer, they’re indistinguishable from legal occupants.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Squatters wouldn’t pay rent almost by definition, since their occupancy requires an absentee owner. Bear in mind that continuous occupancy for twenty years can result in the title being transferred to the occupier.

                    • weka

                      Is there any reason why squatters can’t eventually pay rent? Marty’s objection seem to be that they get something for nothing like freedom campers. For me freedom campers are a problem where they shit on the side of the road or where there are too many of them in quite places. But poorer kiwis have always traditionally free camped so I don’t see it as something for nothing so much as being part of the landscape. Tourists are a different matter.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Is there any reason why squatters can’t eventually pay rent?

                      Yes: the problem of finding the property owner, bearing in mind that the squatters don’t really want you to.

                      Put it this way: how can you tell, from an outside perspective, whether someone is paying rent or a mortgage?

                      All your neighbours might be squatters unless you have knowledge of them doing so 🙂

                    • weka

                      Sorry, I was in Bill’s scenario where lots of people were squatting, with rights, and hiding it wasn’t necessarily necessary. So marty’s community wouldn’t like that because free stuff, so I suggested the squatters pay rent. It’s actually pretty easy in most places to find out who owns property via rates’ databases. But sure, for those that want/need to, squat more carefully and no-one will know. Except where I live, because everyone knows who owns what.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      …everyone knows who owns what.

                      Literally? Everyone has intimate knowledge of everyone else’s mortgage and/or rental situation?

                      Here are three different examples:

                      That nice couple down the road.

                      The filthy troublemakers.

                      The careful sensitive bankers.

                    • weka

                      “Literally? Everyone has intimate knowledge of everyone else’s mortgage and/or rental situation?”

                      Pretty much. It’s a standard conversation when you get to know someone here. Are you renting or owning? When did you build? etc. Unless my neighbours have lied to me, I know which ones own. Don’t know who has a mortgage of course, I don’t know them that well.

                      Plus conversations like ‘so and so from thingy just bought whatishisname’s house’ are pretty common. And conversations about landlords, rents, what kind of tenancy people have. Not everyone, but it’s not unusual to know those things.

                      NZ went through this odd thing a few years ago about rates’ databases where some councils decided that it was a privacy issue, but I think most places now have a database you can look up online and unless the owner has asked for their details to be withheld you can search for the name of the owners by street address (some councils require you to go in in person I think).

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      So a successful squatter “looks like someone who has a mortgage”. It isn’t unusual to know these things. It isn’t unusual not to know them either.

                      I met someone who might be described as a “squatter” a couple of weeks ago. It takes all sorts.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.2.1.2

            The property, formally owned by accountants David Rowley and Barrie Skinner who are now in prison on tax fraud convictions, is due to be sold in a mortgagee sale in the next two weeks.

            One wonders why it’s going for a mortgagee sale rather than being taken by the government through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

    • Carolyn_nth 9.2

      There is the same user screening as with Uber – landlords can give a tenant the thumbs down, which will cause other landlords not to lease to renters seen as a problem.

  10. DH 10

    “you have again been affirmed by the state as middle class. ”

    Y’know that doesn’t work any more. People who own million dollar properties are very much not middle class. That term has become obsolete and irrelevant, we need new ones that more accurately describe the class segregation that’s arisen with this property inflation.

    • JanM 10.1

      Back in the day (I was born in the 40s) being middle class didn’t have so much to do with possessions as being literate and reasonably educated at least to the point of being able to speak in whole sentences. People who had acquired wealth without ‘class’ were described as ‘nouveau riche’ and their pretensions were often a source of mirth.
      So when did being middle class have anything to do with possessions? And how would you describe those of us whose upbringing and education make them middle class but haven’t two cents to rub together?

      • Bill 10.1.1

        Those government forms that inquire as to your ethnic origin? Y’know, the question that’s mostly couched in terms of nationality rather than ethnicity?

        I tick “other” and write in “working class”.

        And the reason I do that is because that is my ethnicity – ie, my cultural anchor or sense of identity.

        Maybe “middle class” just indicates a loss of identity or lack of identity? I dunno. There’s certainly not any historical continuity to it or any…well, it’s not really very much of anything at all, is it?

        Maybe it’s nought but a vacuum people seek to fill up with pretensions to superiority that are signified by levels of material wealth or education…or whatever other fairly meaningless things happen to gain ‘currency’ at any given place and time.

        And….walking away now 🙂

      • DH 10.1.2

        I don’t really know how to describe such JanM, it was the author who affirmed himself as middle class based on owning property.

        I’d normally see middle class as being what it suggests; in the middle. Not rich, not poor. But now we have people in the middle who own property and people in the middle who don’t own property. And their wealth status is very, very different. They’re in the middle but they’re not in the ‘middle’, so to speak.

        The term ‘middle class’ just doesn’t ring true any more.

        • weka 10.1.2.1

          Middle class is also cultural. There are whole sets of values and behaviours that go with middle classness that aren’t just about having x amount of $.

          • DH 10.1.2.1.1

            I’m not so sure about that any more weka. You only need to look at this post to see that people who own properly are eagerly looking up their increase in wealth. What’s unsaid is those who don’t own property are doing… something else. That’s quite a cultural schism.

            • weka 10.1.2.1.1.1

              I was raised solid upper middle class. I’m now upper underclass. I can still see lots of middle class things about me, how I think, the values I hold. I can definitely see the middle classness of my family who are all doing well.

              I’m not saying it hasn’t changed, I’m saying it still exists despite having changed.

              • DH

                I think there’s a big gap quietly opened up weka although it’s really for the younger generations to confirm or deny that since they’re affected most by it.

                It never used to matter whether we owned or rented, there was always a reasonable financial equilibrium between the two. We could rent and save or we could buy and pay. Interest rates on savings were quite high so savers could keep pace with homeowners in the wealth stakes. That’s all changed with low interest rates that emerged n 2008, savers have been massively penalised and property owners hugely enriched.

                • weka

                  That is all true. What I am saying is within that class still exists and matters. For instance me being on a benefit with a middle class family of origin is different than my working class friends on a benefit.

                  • DH

                    I found myself growing distant from many friends when I was a benefit. When I was finally able to rejoin the rat-race I was never really able to close the gap again, theirs and my outlook on life had changed too much.

                    • weka

                      That too, yes.

                    • tracey

                      Sadly too many of us have to experience hardship to begin to empathise with those who already have. I truly do not get that worldview

                    • DH

                      Your working class comment had me thinking. Do you think we were separated into working class and middle class in the NZ of old?

                      I never really saw it quite that way, I thought of working class more as the trades, factory and laborers of society. The blue collar versus the white collar. Because we all earned a reasonable $$ back in the day the gap wasn’t yawning so much as to see it as a big class division… at least I didn’t think so

                    • weka

                      I was born in the mid 60s. My family have been able to lend me money. Assuming there is anything left when my parents die, I will inherit wealth that they inherited. My working class friends’ families don’t have that capacity. Yes, class has always existed in NZ.

                      And yes, the gap used to be different, not so gaping, we didn’t have such a pronounced underclass, unemployment wasn’t an issue for a very long time etc. The way class worked was different too.

                      I was mostly oblivious to class when I was growing up, that’s a feature of the middle classes. In hindsight I can pick the class of my primary and secondary school friends, but I couldn’t have articulated that at the time. It wasn’t until my early 20s and I was working with politicised working class women that I came to understand what class was and what it meant. That was in the late 80s.

                    • Molly

                      If anyone is interested and can enjoy or ignore Russell Brand’s interruption, Billy Bragg makes a good case for changing leftist language in this podcast.

                      He speaks about how Marxist language is today’s society is unrecognised and has to be quantified and explained everytime it is used – examples here are found in the discussions over liberal and neoliberal (and bourgeoise). People’s understanding of socialism is almost different for each individual.

                      He talks about using phrases easily understood, such as organised compassion.

                      “As musicians our currency is empathy – a great song can make you feel something for someone you have never seen before, you’ve never met..

                      Allows you to draw you out of yourself and take you away from those selfish, individualistic feelings that capitalism tries to encourage.

                      Music takes you away from that. So in times like now, when there is like a war on empathy, it is up to musicians to ramp that up.

                      Now, I’m not saying this is a political thing ‘cos Adele does it just as well as Oasis done it, as I do it.

                      We are all capable of doing it. That’s what a good song does. So we need more of that – I think.

                      And what this is all about – just trying to draw a broad picture about what we have been discussing about the decline of Marxist language. We find ourselves talking about these terms like empathy, and compassion and you know, cynicism.

                      This is where we are at the moment. We have got to find a way of defining those terms, and understanding that these are the things we need.

                      We need to live in a compassionate society.

                      We don’t need to live in a socialist society. That – to me – sounds like something that you are going to have to spend a week explaining how it works.

                      But when you talk about a compassionate society – people immediately get what that means, you know.

                      My Nan would understand what that meant.”

    • adam 10.2

      Smoke and mirrors argument there DH. The reality is if you own land you are a member of the bourgeoisie in this country. Just saying….

  11. adam 11

    Ad – don’t you mean Bourgeoisie meth, not Bourgeoise meth.

    • weka 11.1

      lol, yes. Or bourgeois.

    • Ad 11.2

      Bourgois is for a person, whereas bourgeoisie is the collective noun.

      The addressing “me” and “you” in the first pparagraph sets this up.

      If I had used a collective “we”, then i would have used the collective form.

      One of my staff is French and she confirms I’m fine in my usage, except I should have spelled it “bourgeois”. Weka is right.

      • weka 11.2.1

        My dictionary is saying that bourgeoise is the term for female bourgeois.

        • Ad 11.2.1.1

          I’ll take that.
          Feminine form.

          • weka 11.2.1.1.1

            🙂

            • In Vino 11.2.1.1.1.1

              Sorry, Ad. If you write Bourgeoise Meth, you are making the Meth feminine, not anything else. Nor anyone else. If you believe meth is a feminine noun, fine.
              But If I were you I would settle for either ‘ bourgeois meth’ (we English speakers use the word ‘bourgeois’, but never make it feminine) or ‘Bourgeoisie meth.’
              I think you meant meth of the middle class, which makes either option OK?

  12. greywarshark 12

    Air BnB – it is just another example of people with money trying to undercut and bargain down the locals. The USa tourists I noticed in large numbers in Europe had a substantial number who were trying to do it on the bludge, and on driving down all haggling to often very poor traders.

    This new approach is just another way of extracting maximum advantage as a disruptive tourist who doesn’t maintain the businesses and systems that underpin the local economy. When young people couch surfed etc on an individual basis it wasn’t too bad but when it becomes organised world-wide it is predator acting. I don’t know whether the Time-Share system has a destructive effect to the local economy as well. And to locals who might otherwise be able to rent that property outside of high tourism periods.

    • weka 12.1

      The people I know that run Air BnBs do so to supplement income. The accommodation they’re offering isn’t particularly suited to permanent long term accommodation (e.g. one is a caravan). They’re not particularly rich – some own a house, some rent but the impetus is to increase their income so they’re not struggling quite so much.

      Of course they’re still middle class but not upper middle class if you know what I mean. I can’t blame them for wanting to make their lives easier or to get ahead. I think the responsibility lies with local and central govt.

      There are things about AirBnB and Uber that are attractive, and things that are extractive and exploitative. Yay neoliberalism, where attractive will win out because that’s where the power holders in society are looking.

      • greywarshark 12.1.1

        Okay weka. Everything all swirled up so good and not so good together, Nothing is easy so policy has to be devised carefully with that in mind. If that can be done, trying to prevent unintended consequences.

        • weka 12.1.1.1

          The only way I can see out of the housing crisis is for a chunk of middle class people to lose asset value. Not their actual homes mind, but the investment. Better to have that as an intended consequence rather than an inevitable one that no-one wants to talk about (the impending crash).

          People who are lower middle class are going to take advantage of AirBnB because the motivation to improve one’s live is very strong. Only government intervention can change that, but NZers have to want it too. If they did, we’d have the Greens in cabinet already.

  13. I am no longer confident that government of whatever current combination is large or brave enough to break this cycle. We’re just too small a state now.

    Although you’re right in the first sentence you’re wrong in the second. We’re still an independent state although the FTAs that our governments have been signing us up to, usually against the will of the people, is slowly eroding that.

    But, because we are still independent, does mean that we can drop from those FTAs and we have enough people and enough productivity that doing so won’t negatively effect living too much and they would start rising after a period of time.

    We have quickly lowering house ownership rates

    1. As designed by the capitalists
    2. Is house ownership really a valid thing? A large part of that lower house ownership is due to a small section of society owning more of the available housing and getting unearned income from it.

    Maybe if they get three terms in a row, a following wind, and the global economy never alters.

    If the government was the sole creator of NZ currency and spent it into the economy the state of the global economy would never matter. Under those conditions, the state can always afford all the resources of the country including the services of those that live here.

    In the meantime, that three-yearly valuation we click on holds a dark whirlpool mixture of jealousy, security, aspiration, class calibration anxiety, social and physical mobility, retirement planning, rentier control, fighting over dead parents’ estates, rates escalation fear, economic lockout, argument, divorce, failure, and sheer greed.

    Yep. Capitalism is evil.

    • Ad 13.1

      The phrase “the state” referred to the instruments and organisations that Wellington has to actually undertake the work. We’re a pretty small set of disaggregated entities at the moment.

      On the foreign ownership of housing issue, we will need to see the text of the legislative change that comes from the Select Committee before we can get a steer on that. The government says it’s a pretty simple tweak. Let’s see.

  14. Molly 14

    When existing policies – financial, tax and immigration regard housing primarily as a financial consideration rather than a fundamental requirement for all NZers, we should understand the decisions of many NZers and overseas investors to make use of the climate of capital gain.

    The criticism rightly rests with the failure of governance on this issue, at both local and national level. We speak of housing “stock” and fail to acknowledge that community breakdown occurs with transience, and social costs are rising just as fast as capital gains.

    The Overton window on this issue is incredibly narrow, and only considered discussion on media and in public will enable efficient solutions to be discussed.

    For me, the priority would be housing NZers at an affordable cost – rental or owned, in healthy homes. It requires direct investment in state housing and that’s all there is to it. The market will never provide, and while politicians try to manipulate it to do so, then we continue the long wait.

    Chilean architect, Alejandro Aravena released his affordable housing designs for free, including the one for Villa Verde – incremental housing that residents update and expand when they can afford it. This could be used both for statehousing, mixed with privately owned units.

    Our current planning policies are not innovative enough to offer secure housing, they have not even been updated to improve negative outcomes from previous planning mistakes.

    We have to demand changes of our planning documents, and national legislation for this juggernaut to be slowed down. But first of all, we have to address the issue of public perspective.

    • weka 14.1

      Interesting project in Chile, thanks for that.

      The thing that worried me about the Ak CV release is that the biggest jumps were on land being developed. So this whole idea that building lots of houses is going to solve the housing crisis strikes me as being problematic. If buying land to build houses is now a significant driver of increasing property values, then on and on it goes.

      Yes, having more houses will take the pressure off, but it’s not going to solve the actual problem. Radically change our culture around land ownership might lead to better solutions.

      • Molly 14.1.1

        I think the solution is multi-pronged which is why it is not being solved, and yes the land cost is part of that.

        Yet, a mechanism to collect from the increase in land values for Auckland Council was barely discussed before being dismissed.

        Panuka Developments which manages Auckland Council land and property assets takes a familiar corporate development approach, – “realising” underused assets by sales, and entering PPP projects. Absolutely no consideration of social returns, or opportunities for new models of housing to be practised.

        • weka 14.1.1.1

          Yes multi pronged. Or use systems thinking. And yes the problem is thecapitalist and neoliberal models being used. It’s so self evident it’s hard to comprehend. The only explanation I can’t see is that people in positions of power value money over people.

          • Molly 14.1.1.1.1

            I also consider the almost casual use or appropriation of public money or assets by those in power to be interesting.

            I wonder if the capitalist corporate world (and neoliberal perspective), encourages decision makers to distance themselves from the wider consequences of “other people’s money”. A lot of remuneration is based on specific outcomes that sometimes lead to long-term problems, but personally benefits the individual decision-maker.

            Practice in that perspective – not only contributes to an easy-come-easy-go attitude to public money, but narrows choices.

  15. patricia bremner 15

    Here in Australia, where I’m visiting, there are villages built on leased land. Buyers purchase a one two or three bed, property through a right to occupy. Perhaps NZ needs these.

    These properties vary over size and 5 or 6 designs, a lease fee is paid weekly to cover land water gardening and facilities such as a community hall, bus, library etc.

    This is a much lower cost up front, half of freehold often. Also because of the fees capital gain appears much lower. So here we have renters, leaseholders and home owners.

    Those who rent are seen as “battlers” just hanging in there.

    Those who lease are over 50s, retired or people who like the safety of a gated village where some one does maintenance.

    Home owners are those who got into property early, held their jobs during down turns and freely admit to using home equity to assist their families’ education and housing.

    Class distinctions have been fostered by these differing life paths and the resulting support offered to their children.

    Some end up with mortgage sized student loans and no home, others can manage to save a deposit with family help, and so the gaps widen.

  16. Sparky 16

    if you want a general idea of what your home or homes may be worth this site is pretty good:

    https://homes.co.nz

  17. David Mac 17

    Owning an Auckland house is being wealthy without any of the trappings.

    Wealthy people are being fitted for boots in Argentina. Aucklanders are binge watching The Block again. The wealthy are sucking the meat out of lobster claws on San Francisco Pier. Rich Aucklanders are selling jars of jam at Farmer Markets in order to pay their rates bill.

    Owning a house in Auckland….the world’s poorest millionaires.

  18. David Mac 18

    I think we’ve probably always coveted a nicer place to live. A cave with a shaft above the fire pit would be popular.

    We place too much emphasis on our caves at the expense of advancing mankind in a more positive direction.

    The $ sunk into a Glen Eden rental could be ending Malaria or building prototype solar pick-up electric cars.

  19. Whispering Kate 19

    The rising rate of equity in housing in NZ is becoming, for many people a burden because of rising rates on their properties. The sexiness of having a home increasing in equity is eroded by the foreboding of the rising rate bill to be paid quarterly.

    Now it has become an ever increasing irritant. What is so sexy about rising home prices, it can only be realised upon being sold. It makes owners vulnerable because of guilt about leaving an asset for their children when they are finding it even more difficult to pay the rates bill. A lot of people are leaving the major cities to try and avoid the expensives but even provincial areas now have expensive rates. A Hawkes Bay home can realise the same rates as some Auckland homes.

    I don’t know what the councils do with the monies they collect from ratepayers but only tonight I heard on the news with John Campbell that Super City councillers were spending up to $16,000 return business class for trips overseas. How obscene is this – all on the poor suffering rate payer. Before long we will all be in penuary. One counciller said the rates weren’t collected for services, but that it was a land tax. At least the woman was telling it how it is – sheer greed and extravagance. Home ownership has lost its gloss and its only going to get worse.

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