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Give the people what they want

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, March 26th, 2009 - 39 comments
Categories: economy, Environment, transport - Tags: ,

Stephen Joyce keeps saying the reason he has slashed investment in public transport to build more roads is that he is giving the people what they want. He says most people get to work in a car, so people must want cars.

What wonderful logic. Imagine if we hadn’t introduced public health-care or public education because, after all, everyone (well, everyone who could afford it) was using private health and education so that must be what the people want. The government would never have built airports because everyone was using ships and therefore they must be happy with it that way.

I wonder if Joyce has been on a train or a bus recently. I doubt it. If he had been, he would have seen they are full to overcrowding. The only reason more people aren’t using public transport is that it’s full.

Meanwhile, motorway traffic is down. It dropped when oil prices when sky-high last year, and if you drive to work you know it isn’t as bad as it was before. Petrol is still expensive, and it’s about to start going up again with the oil price.

Give the people what they want. The people want public transport.

39 comments on “Give the people what they want ”

  1. vto 1

    Give the people what they want. The people want inexpensive and comfortable private transport actually, silly.

  2. ieuan 2

    Yeah vto and they don’t want to have to find a park for it, or put petrol in it or pay to maintain it. Or have any other cars on the road, or have speed limits or stop at red lights.

    • vto 2.1

      you said it ieuan. Understanding the wants of the person in the street I have always felt is a weak point in the left approach to things. This thread typifies that.

      • r0b 2.1.1

        Don’t be daft vto, Labour is all about ordinary people, ordinary workers, and what they want.

        For example, the person in the street wanted tax cuts. Would have had them under Labour, but under National the tax cuts go to the person in the Limousine.

        • vto

          r0b, one of the main reasons good business people make lots of moola is because they understand and provide what the people want. These good business people are generally of the right. imo the reason those of generally left persuasion dont make as much moola is because they dont understand what people want.

          This moola-making ability, or lack of, is a sign of an understanding of the people.

          A subtle but real difference in what you are saying.

          • r0b

            This moola-making ability, or lack of, is a sign of an understanding of the people.

            Oh please. By this criteria all those wall street bankers and AIG executives have the best understanding of ordinary people. They must do, they make the most “moola”. They must understand people better than the people themselves, and the organisations that represent them like unions. Seriously, this is one of the most bizarre arguments you have ever put forward.

          • vto

            r0b, in reply to your reply. You may well consider it bizarre but I don’t. the story goes like this.

            The only way to make money is to get people to give it to you (it cannot be stolen or forced in the long picture). People will only give you money if you give them something in return. And this is the crux – you must understand what the people want, and give it to them, otherwise they will not give you the money. As such, those that given money the most understand what people want the most.

            It is very simple.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Your own insight into what the people want seems to miss the point that not all the people have ‘making as much money as I can’ as their life goal.

            If everyone did want that, then your observation might make sense, but perhaps people on the right are more focussed on making money than people on the left. Perhaps lefties use their knowledge of what people want in other ways. That you missed this, is in context, pretty fuckn funny.

          • r0b

            Being. Very. Simple. Doesn’t. Make. It. Right.

            And this is the crux – you must understand what the people want, and give it to them, otherwise they will not give you the money

            Useless parasitic activities like gambling on the stockmarket and trading “sophisticated” financial instruments doesn’t involve understanding people (wall street bankers). Using political influence to get massive government funding via “no bid contracts” doesn’t involve understanding people (the American “military industrial complex”). Getting trillion dollar bailouts from the government doesn’t involve understanding people (wall street bankers again). Exploiting a monopoly position doesn’t involve understanding people (Bill Gates). Being good at one particular thing and / or having a really smart agent doesn’t involve understanding people (Paris Hilton, Hollywood celebrities or sports stars).

            The amount of money you have is no kind of measure of insight into the lives and wants of ordinary people.

          • vto

            p’s b, who said anything about money as everybody’s life goal?? My point was very specific and nothing to do with that.

            r0b, who said anything about the “amount of money you have”?? My point concerned making money. different things. You can also point out the odd area that does not fit but the theory holds (and you are wrong re celebs and stars and agents and even financial traders and especially Gates. Gates in fact fits the theory to a tee (exploiting the monopoly position came well after). think about it).

            Seems this has, quite understandably, scratched a nerve. The left always thinks it has the monopoly on people. I disagree. The left does not understand what people want as well as other factions in society.

            The left likes to think it knows – and usually proceeds thereafter in busybody fashion telling everyone what they should be doing. Last govt classic example. This thread classic example (telling people they should be taking the bus – thinking that people want the bus over private transport. ha ha)

          • Felix

            It’s true that celebrities and their agents understand “what people want” and how to make money from it but that doesn’t help your case that this is a good way to set policy which actually benefits anyone.

            Quite the opposite.

          • Pascal's bookie

            You didn’t mention it vto, but it is a presuppostion needed to make your theory work. Think about it.

            You are using the amount of money someone has made as a proxy for how much they understand people. It’s an interesting point, and might have some validity in comparing how some businesses understand people better than others . But to say that therefore righties understand people better than lefties do simply because they tend to make more money, presupposes that righties and lefties are equally motivated to be in business and to try and make as much money as they can. If you don’t assume that, then how can you use the amount of money they make as a meaningful proxy for how much they understand people?

            If lefties are not in fact motivated as much as righties to make money in the first place, then why would you use the amount of money they make as an indicator for anything?

          • r0b

            Seems this has, quite understandably, scratched a nerve.

            Yes, statements that are demonstrably wrong do that to me!

            The left always thinks it has the monopoly on people. I disagree. The left does not understand what people want as well as other factions in society.

            Right, rich people (simply by virtue of being rich) understand the lives wants and needs of the workers much better than the workers understand themselves. Makes perfect sense.

            The left likes to think it knows – and usually proceeds thereafter in busybody fashion telling everyone what they should be doing.

            The right likes to think it knows – and usually proceeds thereafter in busybody fashion limiting the choices of workers, cutting the social services that provide choices to low income earners, locking ever more people up in ever more prisons, and introducing laws to control personal decisions regarding drug use and the ultimate personal choices relating to sexuality, marriage and abortion.

            Enough banging my head against a brick wall – toodles.

          • vto

            A point true p’s b. This theory of mine stemmed from watching biz people at work and trying to work out how they did it. And that is what resulted – that they understand what people want and give it to them, because that is the only way people will give them the money they want.

            Latching it to the reverse may not so easily follow as you say. Perhaps I stretched the theory a little to fit. But I don’t think so. Biz definitely understands what people want (generally right folk).

            So, does biz make a person ‘right’ or does a ‘right’ person make a better biz?

            Also, the harsh world of business is the best of proving grounds for understanding that understanding.

            my brain is starting to hurt…

          • vto

            r0b, you have given broad general statements but no evaulation or anything to support those statements. You are usually full of detail and decent argument in support. Toodles.

  3. toad 3

    The absolute stupidity of National’s draft amended Government Policy Statement on Land Transport is astounding. I’ve blogged about it in the context of coastal shipping here (yes – coastal shipping is officially designated “land” transport).

    There are just seven days left for people to make submissions – they close on 2 April. I couldn’t find the draft on-line, so have uploaded it here (PDF). The funding allocation is on page 4.

    Compare it to the (somewhat) more sensible Government Policy Statement developed by Labour (PDF). The funding alocation is on page 18.

    So get the submissions rolling in to gps@transport.govt.nz.

  4. Tigger 4

    If people want private transport why are National reducing the amount spent on upkeeping roads. I’m right – that’s what they’re doing isn’t it? If I’m supposedly wedded to my car you can damn well be sure I want decent roads to drive it on – not just new roads but old roads that aren’t full of potholes.

    • MikeG 4.1

      It’s called running down the infrastructure, just like they did in the 90’s.

      • BLiP 4.1.1

        Its also called the fraudulent marking down of state assets in preparation for sale at discount prices to Goober’s off shore mates. Harbour Bridge tolls, anyone?

  5. Clarke 5

    I really don’t see the point in submitting on the GPS – the Road Transport Forum paid $30,000 to National’s election campaign to get exactly this policy, so better ideas and sensible logic from mere members of the public won’t even get a look in. Sending Joyce a submission is a fruitless waste of innocent A4, IMHO.

    Given National has a long and illustrious history of selling policy positions, perhaps the shipping industry (or the locomotive manufacturers) would be better off simply purchasing the policy they want, just like the roading lobby.

  6. toad 6

    Clarke – I think we do need to make submissions, just so we can later attack them for ignoring them. If we don’t, they will just say “hardly anyone submitted on it, so people must be happy with it”.

    I know the submissionw will have little influence over it, but they are important politically. Don’t need to be particularly detailed or involve a lot of research though.

  7. So out of $8.559 billion of total transport funding, we see that public transport services and infrastructure only gets $767 million – that’s around 9% – utterly pathetic! When it comes to “new infrastructure”, which is what we’re really talking about as necessary you end up comparing $134 million for new public transport with $3.496 billion for new roads. Wow, twenty-six times the funding for new roads than new public transport. How is that balanced?

  8. Well since you mentioned it vto, I wouldn’t mind a helicopter for getting to work in.

  9. Matthew Pilott 9

    I don’t think people want “inexpensive and comfortable private transport” per se, vto.

    I could say that many people want more money, and that would, on the face of it, seem to be an accurate, simple, and uncontestable statement (although it’s not everyone’s goal as has been elucidated above, but for the sake of the argument I’ll just say that if you hand out hundreds you’ll find quite a few takers).

    According to your simplistic (sorry, but it is) reasoning, the government should print more money.

    We all know what happens there – existing money becomes worth a lot less. So people have more money, fewer wealth. Perhaps people want greater wealth, or the freedom from constraints imposed by a severe shortage thereof. As r0b expounded – simple doesn’t make it right.

    So, on topic – do people really want “inexpensive and comfortable private transport”? No – they want to be able to get around efficiently and quickly, with a minimum of fuss. The type of transport for many commuters, for example, is secondary to the benefits offered by the type of transport. They don’t care if it’s a car, bus or unicycle – it needs to meet their requirements – and I bet private wouldn’t come in the top 5 for about 95% of commuters – not when you’ve got fast, efficient, cheap, convenient, comfortable, reliable, sustainable and so on.

    So, vto, I think you’ve taken a very simplistic look at it – but you’re clearly not alone. National is right behind you with ‘people drive cars so people want to drive cars’.

    If A does X, it does not follow that A wants to do X – Y might just not be an option.

    For a Government that harps on about choice, where’s my choice here? Stephen Joyce just chose for me – thanks a bunch, Hollow Man.

    I’m not sure you can say the Left is bad at identifying what peole want, vto.

    • vto 9.1

      Clearly, killing and MP, there is a practical limit. But, killing, if some person could supply people with a cheap, easy to use, non-polluting, etc helicopter then that person would literally make a killing. Because they understood what the people wanted (and supplied it). You fit my theory perfectly!!

      MP, you may be right in that many people would actually prefer a fantsatic public transport mode. I would guess tho that this would be to do with convenience and other factors as much as anything else. i.e. it is not quite what they want, but its the best in the circumstances. So my initial comment still stands – people want inexpensive, convenient, non-polluting, comfortable private transport over inexpensive, convenient, non-polluting, comfortable public transport. Why not aim for that then?

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1

        Considering that everyone having their own car and using it daily is massively expensive then surely the answer is cheap and comfortable mass transport. Everyone can afford it and it’s sustainable unlike everyone having their own car.

        The practical limits are simply that everyone can’t have everything they want. Sure, people got rich trying to achieve just that and now we’re heading toward a man made ELE.

      • QoT 9.1.2

        So I presume we’re starting with free state-supplied parking spaces for all, moving to massive subsidization of petrol and/or R&D into renewable fuel for cars, PLUS artifical intelligence so I don’t have to think about where I’m driving, plus one carpark per person within easy walking distance of everywhere they may need to go, plus imbuing private transport with the ability to get cheaper the more you use it?

        I think it might be just a wee bit more efficient to invest in electric light rail, personally.

        • vto

          You two illustrate my point exactly. Subject to those factors (cost, convenience, etc) being able to be satisfied, people want private transport not public.

          The practical aspect comes in with being able to satisfy those factors. And clearly they cannot always be. At the moment. Hence people may want public transport, not because that is their desire but because it is the best trade off between wants and practicalities.

          And on a practical note – I will bet 2c that most all cost, convenience, pollution, congestion, etc factors will be satisfied within a lifetime from now. Reason? People want easy inexpensive correct private transport. Any takers?

          • Snail

            do I get you aright, vto—yer want the nano franchise for enzed asap. 🙂

          • vto

            A-ha! See, it is already happenning…

          • QoT

            I did? By … establishing why making private transport equal even to current standards of public transport will be ridiculously difficult?

            vto, I hate to break it to you, but I do not desire cheaper private transport. I don’t like driving. And if your response is going to be “well, within a lifetime you totes won’t have to drive your own cars” then clearly we’re going to be living in the kind of super-utopia where everyone’s such a pack of cuddly Ubermensch that they won’t need to avoid public transport for fear of The Underclasses.

            You continually insisting ACTUALLY PEOPLE TOTALLY WANT PRIVATE TRANSPORT THEY DO THEY DO THEY DO doesn’t make it so.

          • vto

            QoT, re your last sentence of course I have no proof other than my own anecdote. It would be very interesting to see a survey on this question though would it not? Something like… all tings being equal would you want to travel by public or private transport?

          • Felix

            It’s probably not useful to get all binary about this stuff, there are all kinds of ways people want to move around. Mass transit is great for moving a lot of people in one direction at the same time every day and that’s an important part of the solution, city loop buses are another, but I don’t see private vehicles disappearing any time soon.

            The way we use them and the way we own them will probably change dramatically though.

            This is really interesting – if I were living in the city I’d definitely be joining up. I might anyway depending how my plans this year play out, if I’m visiting Auckland regularly it could be well worth it.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Something like all tings being equal would you want to travel by public or private transport?

            We could ask that, and I’d bet you’d be right. But what would’ve we learned? Nothing useful IMV.

            Perhaps a more useful question might be:

            Assuming global warming is most likely to be a problem that we should be doing something to mitigate, and that public transport is more efficient, and that we aren’t going to suddenly cure congestion and parking problems with magic, does it make sense for the government to spend more money on public transport, rather than less?

            perhaps that’s too long. How about:

            seeing how in’t real world all things aren’t equal, should we choose the smarter option over the dumber one?

          • vto

            interesting felix interesting. The wonder of private enterprise – looking for a solution for people’s needs and wants.

            P’s b, or… “If effects on the environment could be mitigated and the roads not too crowded and the cost not too high then would you prefer a brrmm brrmmm car over a putt putt bus?”

            Something would be learned. What people want. Then private enterprise would (and already is) go flat out trying to satisfy the environment matters, the congestion issues and the cost issues.

            It may sound all pie in the sky discussion but that what this site is for at times, no?

            And it’s only 3 issues ! easy peasy. Glass is half full brothers and sisters.

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    vto, in response to my initial comment you seemed to write off public transport with nary a second thought. It can be good, it’s not necessarily hugely expensive, and it’s a good way to do things, in tandem with our extensive road networks (see felix, not either/or…).

    As said – you have something in common with National (and Joyce).

  11. gingercrush 11

    Give the people what they want. The people want public transport.

    And you know that how? That statement by itself is fine.Of course most people in New Zealand want public transport. But until we get good quality information that states that we’ll never know how much they want. For instance, do people want the same amount of money spent on roads as they do public transport. So far there isn’t an answer to that. Do they want more spent on public transport than roads. Do they want less spent on public transport than what is spent on roads. How do New Zealanders want to pay for public transport. I’m sure there is that information somewhere. But even further to that. How does New Zealand feel about freight being largely transported via roads.

    I really think for most New Zealanders, indeed more than merely most would rather continue to see substantially more spent on roads than public transport. And for most New Zealanders they will always use private vehicles than public transport.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Well, I suppose the government could take an actual survey rather than just saying we want more roads.

      I really think you’re wrong and, this comes back to practicality, it’s not possible for everyone to have private transport.

  12. jarbury 12

    For the foreseeable future of course we would have more money spent on roads across the whole country than on public transport. You ain’t going to ever see a “Gore Metro”.

    However, for a place like Auckland clearly most of the transport initiatives in the future need to be public transport. We simply can’t build many more motorways here – with the Waterview Connection likely to be the last remaining viable link. With the population going to continue growing until maybe 2060 or 2070 – maxing out perhaps at around 2.5 million – Auckland is going to need to provide more transport capacity. This will HAVE to take the form of public transport, unless we want to completely ruin the city by building wider roads, more motorways and so forth. Two tracks of rail carries the same number of people as twelve lanes of motorway – it seems pretty obvious what the most space-efficient method is.

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