Politics is like a Traffic Jam

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, June 9th, 2019 - 45 comments
Categories: Politics, transport - Tags: , , ,

It feels like we are enjoying a political lull right now. Of course, there always is noise and turbulence somewhere in the world, but Trump has not spilt his milkshake over a royal, Assange has not been extradited, and the British have not yet met the rock face they are facing called Brexit. Here at home, the dust is settling after Budgetgate and Mad Mike and Cantankerous Kate are still doing their raucous rants. All is normal in Middle Earth.

So, it begs the question has anything changed? To me it feels like we are stuck in a traffic jam. It is frustratingly slow and we are going nowhere anytime fast. We cannot do much about it and it seems completely (!) outside our control. We can swap lanes, from Right to Centre to Left and vice versa. Or stoically stay in the ‘safe’ Middle lane and pretend you cannot see the cars on either side – the convenient ‘blind spot’. Other drivers can drive us mad with their behaviour and we start to recognise behaviours too. In fact, we recognise certain cars by their license plates or other standout signage but almost never the drivers in them. Weird.

While we are crawling forward, motorbikes whizz past us risking life and limb. The odd self-entitled driver uses the bus-lane to get ahead because it is ‘pretty legal’ until caught and they always have a good excuse ready.

Nine out of ten times, there is no obvious reason for a traffic jam. There is no clear cause and there is no ‘leader’ unless it is the slowpoke in front. It seems to dissolve by itself and go where it came from. What was all the fuss about? We make up explanations and ‘rationalise’ it by blaming; stupid drivers, stupid roads, stupid whatever. If we had stayed at home, would there be a traffic jam? Of course! If we had all stayed at home or had taken public transport, would there be a traffic jam? Stop asking stupid little riddles, will you! Are you some kind of Zen quiz-master?

Traffic jams are bad for the economy and environment alike. Yet, five days a week, we sit in them and contribute to them. Because we have no choice. In the morning, on the way to work – another day, another dollar. In the evening, on the way home – one day less till the weekend.

Our cars are (our) status symbols. However, in a traffic jam it does not matter what car you drive. It does not matter who you are, what job you do or have – presumably you are on your way to or from work – how much you earn. Traffic jams, just like democracy, are a great equaliser, and they force us to follow the (s)lowest denominator. Nothing ever seems to change.

Oh dear, an accident on the other side of the motorway. It looks nasty so let’s slow down some more to have a bloody good look. Oh crap, the car in front of me stopped and I hit them. I hope they are insured …

45 comments on “Politics is like a Traffic Jam”

  1. May be a little less ego, and a shitload more humility.

    "……..motorbikes whizz past us risking life and limb. The odd self-entitled driver uses the bus-lane to get ahead because it is ‘pretty legal’ until caught and they always have a good excuse ready"

    To which I'd add: some motorists plant their boot racing to the next red light; others thinking they're the world's best drivers try to be policemen; others just can't keep a constant speed; others have a complete inability to merge (like a zip) because it's all a competition and they have to get there first,  etc., etc.

    Good analogy @ Incognito

     

  2. vto 2

    aint no traffic jams when walking …. 

    free, clear head, clear air, birds twittering, insects buzzing, trees growing…

    why drive ?

    • satty 2.1

      Not too sure about that, in case you have to go somewhere the car drivers go. I work in a lot of bigger cities in Australia and New Zealand and none has “clean air” in the city centers and the “wildlife” is questionable, too.

    • aint no traffic jams when walking ….

      Having tried to walk down Oxford Street in London during a busy shopping period, I can assure you that there are traffic jams when walking.  Lots of people wanting to use the same footpath has exactly the same effect as lots of people wanting to use the same road.  

       

      • bwaghorn 2.2.1

        When I first arrived in Aberdeen many years ago I found walking in the bus lane down the main street easier than weaving through the hoards . Very crock Dundee with out  the big knife 

      • Anne 2.2.2

        I went to the supermarket yesterday and it was bedlam. It seemed like every man, woman and child was there. I seriously contemplated the need for supermarket traffic lights both ends of the aisles. 😉 It would bring about order, calm frayed nerves (we hope) and everyone would get their turn to have a fair go.

        Bit like politics really.  

        Create cohesion and a sense of order among the populace – a political version of traffic lights?  Make sure everyone gets an opportunity to have a fair go. We had an egalitarian society a few decades ago remember? The principle of "the equality of mankind" inculcated into every law of the land?

        Then along came the neoliberal political craze and it's all gone. Now it's a dog eat dog world and to hell with those left behind through no fault of their own.

        We currently have a coalition government which is trying to recreate a modern version of that egalitarian society. But it is going to take a long time to achieve, and there are plenty of blue-hued nasties intent on undermining every effort for the sake of personal, individual power and political gain.

        It isn't going to be easy. Like the fictitious supermarket traffic lights, we need to be patient, stay calm and give this coalition government a fair go.

        Rome cannot be rebuilt in a day!

        • Kat 2.2.2.1

          Those "blue-hued nasties" certainly are the handbrake preventing our once was egalitarian society from being rebuilt. At this point in time the NZ voter is the hand hovering over that brake. The 2017 election was a catalyst for a change in direction, the 2020 election is shaping up to be a real test of where we are headed. Jacinda Ardern and/or the coalition needs a very clear majority to make it happen.  

  3. Ad 3

    It only feels like a traffic jam to extremes of left and right, and to political obsessives.

     

    New Zealand popular mood is great, economy fine, stable scandal -free government, fresh funding in system, media games and shrinking, all is well.

     

    And no political drama anywhere in any major country except UK.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Yes. That's commensurate with my customary and way more convoluted argument, that the centre is where the action is and where things get done. And in NZ we are fortunate that the centre, for all it's despised beige tones, is in reasonable health and we could a lot more damned grateful for this.

      • vto 3.1.1

        I don;t know if the centre is where the action is Red. Changes are usually pushed from the edges, into the centre, which eventually wakes up and smells the roses…

        either to vote Trump or Hitler, or to push the Monarchy out …

        they all start at the edge don't they?

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          Yes and no. The edges are where we encounter the novel and unknown and I agree eventually the good ideas percolate inward. There is value in this.

          But we consistently underestimate the value of the centre. It's not the inert lump we denigrate it as. It is where the diverse elements of society meet and contend with each other, where they negotiate, compromise and sometimes reach consensus. And on this basis we can collectively take action. 

          Even if the action is nothing more glamorous than to keep the astounding edifice of our amazing world tottering on for a bit more cheeky

          • vto 3.1.1.1.1

            "the astounding edifice of our amazing world tottering on for a bit more"

            Ha, well put

    • you're not angling to become the next State Services Commissioner are you @Ad?

    • Stuart Munro. 3.3

      It's a great story, but declining home ownership, burgeoning private debt and the gig economy have laid waste to our once comfortable middle class. Time was teachers were one of the happiest groups, but decades of ill-conceived meddling have driven many out of the profession and left the rest stressed out.

      Property inflation driven by foreign capital has imposed a dead weight cost on our economy double that faced by previous generations, and things like the winter energy payment are palliatives rather than long term solutions to the gross mismanagement that characterizes a neoliberal public service.

      The once comfortable and secure public service, having short-delivered the public increasingly feel a puckering sensation as they recognize that they, and not their no-longer-in-power political masters, are going to have to account for some of their transgressions.

      And then there's Amartya Sen's HDI notes on suicide – that it is a robust measure of societal dissatisfaction, and that societies with high rates cannot be characterized as happy. A larger mental health budget will likely not ineffably cure such an ill while the socioeconomic drivers remain.

      • OnceWasTim 3.3.1

        +1 @ Stuart. I can't quite figure out if @Ad was being serious or not with that

        "New Zealand popular mood is great" bit.

        I guess it could be if everyone is kept medicated in one form or another – either the piss, pot, 'P' or Prozac, or by way of shopping therapy – KMart at those lower forms of life, or Kaaren Walker and World at the top end

      • feijoa 3.3.2

        +1

        +1

        +1
        Exactly Stuart

  4. Formerly Ross 4

    Take it easy, take the train.

  5. Jenny - How to Get there? 5

    Freedom!

    http://farefreenz.blogspot.com/

  6. Jenny - How to Get there? 6

    Free Public Transport becomes mainstream, (almost).

     

    THE NORTHERN ADVOCATE | Opinion

    Vaughan Gunson: A tourist tax could help fund free public transport in Whangārei

    1 Aug, 2018 10:30am

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503447&objectid=12098325

    …..

    The Government's tourist tax, otherwise known as the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, will be introduced in 2019.

    The $25 to $35 levy (the amount is still to be decided) will raise up to $80 million. Some of that money will find its way back to Whangārei to maintain public facilities near tourist attractions.

    The tourist tax is a necessary move, but there's a strong case for a more direct route between tourism money and the people living in a region…..

    ……One way would be a tax on accommodation, a "bed tax" paid to local councils rather than central government. Auckland Council has already voted to introduce one. Other councils are seriously looking at the idea.

    It would be good to know what Northland's councillors think and if there are plans to follow Auckland's lead.

    What I'd like to see, is any tax levied on tourists enjoying our harbour and publicly supported assets like the Hundertwasser, going towards helping us to fund free public transport.

    Fare-free public transport now exists in around 100 cities and towns worldwide (with the list growing). The benefits are many: reduced private transport costs, greater freedom for younger people, less road congestion and a meaningful way of reducing net carbon emissions.

    This bold idea could be sold to tourists by saying that their travel – one of the most carbon-polluting things you can do – will be offset by a levy that goes directly towards lessening the carbon emissions of the region they are visiting.

    Tourists would, of course, be able to take advantage of the free public transport themselves – an attraction in itself……

     

  7. RRM 7

    A "LULL"???

    How many Labour ministers are going to be implicated in LYING to the people of NZ about the budget "hack"?

    Will the public notice road safety has been slashed by $10 million as part of their WELLBEING BUDGET after all of Genter's grandstanding about "our goal is a zero road toll"?

    Will Kiwibuild even reach 1% of its targets? (What will happen when people start asking how much of the funding has been spent?)

    Capital gains tax is buried.

    The teachers still aren't happy.

    The nurses still aren't happy.

    Child poverty has gone up, not down under Labour.

    The Labour youth drinking camp sexual assault trial verdict won't make anybody look good.

    This is the lull before Labour starts circling the drain. A really long, really bad metaphor can't fix that.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 7.1

      Right wing memes get a Sunday morning airing.

    • WeTheBleeple 7.2

      You need to dig deeper, surely you could write a longer list with more faux outrage.

    • SPC 7.3

      The arrogance of those on the right, is they think they can deceive people into voting against their own interest, because of their vanity that they are the smarter and therefore more deserving than others. 

    • Thoughtful of you to drop off all those Kiwiblog talking points here, but there are insufficient grumpy old white men and obnoxious dumbasses here to pick them up and run with them.  

      • RRM 7.4.1

        I'm getting more and more of it from Facebook these days. People are starting to wake up and see the stardust and the identity politics for what it is. The left doesn’t control the message any more. It is great to see.

        • SPC 7.4.1.1

          Talk about tunnel-vision, your face book pages are designed to reinforce your viewpoint and you think therefore that is reflective of popular opinion. You either understand nothing about social media, or you are just trying to con other people about what is, or is what is not, popular opinion. 

        • mpledger 7.4.1.2

          It's only identity politics because it's not your identity.

        • Psycho Milt 7.4.1.3

          I'm getting more and more of it from Facebook these days.

          As SPC says, there's a reason for that, and it's called "Facebook's business model."  Facebook is telling me that ancient punk music, obscure movies and left-wing politics are becoming more and more popular, mostly because I keep telling it via clicking on things that that's what I like.  Start following lefty politicians on Facebook and clicking on the lefty stories they link to, and you'll soon find Facebook telling you there's been a sudden sea change in politics and the left is rapidly gaining popularity.  

  8. Jenny - How to Get there? 8

    Auckland slowly, (and painfully), inches its way towards Free Public Transport

     

    Newshub
    9 June 2019

    Auckland Mayor wants to make public transport free to under 15s on weekends, public holidays

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/05/auckland-mayor-wants-to-make-public-transport-free-to-under-15s-on-weekends-public-holidays.html

    Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is announcing a proposal today that children under 15 travel on public transport free of charge on weekends and public holidays.

    The proposal aims to encourage more families and young people to use public transport, helping to reduce traffic congestion……

    This measure is being sold as a way to reduce traffic congestion?

    It’s a start, in the right direction.

    But for those of us who drive around Auckland for a living, know for a fact, that traffic congestion in Auckland is almost absent during periods of school holidays!

    Even the one day student strike for the climate, made getting around Auckland noticeably easier for that day.

    The obvious next step, is to make public transport free to under 15s all the time.

    Now that really would make a difference to traffic congestion, especially at peak times.

    • RRM 8.1

      "Free" just means somebody else pays.

      Usually a third party who won’t be paying, offers on behalf of those who will be paying, without even asking them.

       

      Public transport would probably get a lot more bipartisan support if it wasn't so blatantly captured by political socialists using it as a vehicle for their own ambitions.

      • WeTheBleeple 8.1.1

        Free means getting loads of cars off the road. This improves air quality, water quality, travel times, maintenance budgets, productivity…

        You need to learn proper accounting.

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 8.1.2

        Public transport would probably get a lot more bipartisan support if it wasn’t so blatantly captured by political socialists using it as a vehicle for their own ambitions.

        RRM

        Oh no!

        A sinister left wing plot to ease congestion and pollution, has been revealed by RRM.

      • SPC 8.1.3

        You mean public transport funding would be more bi-partisan if right wing parties stop promoting car driver selfishness as a vote winner – it's the politics of the tobacco industry and coal fueled power station age. 

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 8.1.4

        Free public transport, just like free healthcare is not free…

        Bernie Sanders explains…..



      • Psycho Milt 8.1.5

        "Free" just means somebody else pays.

        Uh, duh-uh. Any other pointless truisms to post, while you're here?  "Free" has various meanings, but everyone on this thread, including you, knows that "free" in this context means users of a service are not charged for it and it is instead funded by other means.  

      • Stuart Munro. 8.1.6

        Now turn around and apply that logic to the egregious thefts of our water resources.

      • Brigid 8.1.7

        ""Free" just means somebody else pays."

        No. It means everybody pays. It's called socialism. It's the opposite of greedy, Ayn Rand, 'I'm fine Fuck the rest of You-ism.

        Ask any Scandinavian how well it works.

        • Rosemary McDonald 8.1.7.1

          ""Free" just means somebody else pays."

          No. It means everybody pays. It's called socialism. It's the opposite of greedy, Ayn Rand, 'I'm fine Fuck the rest of You-ism.

          That kinda sums it up at a fundamental level, no?

          Those who agree 100% with Brigid go Left….

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 8.2

      Auckland slowly, (and painfully), inches its way towards Free Public Transport II

      Sinister plot uncovered

      Lacking the boldness of the leftist conspirators in overseas hives of communism, like Luxembourg and LA, Leftist police here, engage in a sinister plot to lower the road toll

      More free public transport being considered for Auckland

      Todd Niall11:55, Feb 11 2019

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/110498483/more-free-public-transport-being-considered-for-auckland

       

      Aucklanders could get more chances to travel free on public transport following a pilot just before Christmas.

      Auckland Transport said it was considering suggestions, such as New Year's Eve and Auckland's Anniversary weekend, after a surge in patronage during the fare-free evening in December.

      The agency, at the request of Police, made public transport free after 4pm on the last Friday before Christmas, largely to reduce drink-driving…..

      Oh no!

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 8.2.1

        From his secret communist bunker in Mangere East, (otherwise known as the Mangere East Community Centre). Queen Service Medal winner and former bus driver, Roger Fowler publishes his blog advocating for free public transport.

         

        Fare-Free New Zealand

        Thursday, December 13, 2018

         
        By Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, 10 December 2018

        LA Metro CEO proposes free public transport for all in Los Angeles

        Last week, Metro CEO Phil Washington endorsed a bold proposal: implement congestion tolls on drivers to make public transportation free. If the proposal moves forward, it would fit into a number of projects Metro has in the works, which all aim to turn Los Angeles into a seamless public transportation utopia before the Olympics come to town…..

        http://farefreenz.blogspot.com/2018/12/la-metro-ceo-proposes-free-public.html

  9. SPC 9

    Yeah sure, there are road congestion constraints on the affording of transformation to where we would like to get to.

    1. We have the constraint of 30% of GDP as government spending Lanbour and Greens decided on in their pre-election agreement.  

    2. the second contraint of the 20% debt to GDP by 2021/2022

    3. The constraint of no new revenue stream CGT.

    Thus we have slowed the journey down. 

    And those on the right would add

    4. indexing tax thresholds, to reduce money for new (transformational) spending. 

    It seems that conservative means reducing government capacity to change – based on a fear that any change involving more (capability of) provision to the public is bad for those who have more private resources than others.

    So while that attitude persists, government capability in health, education and state/social housing diminshes – as people (and councils) face rising insurance costs if they can afford property at all (from earthquake risk and flooding/coastal erosion). 

  10. Marcus Morris 10

    Great piece by Simon Wilson in the Weekend Herald on lowering the accident rates on our road – https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12238283. There is a clear reference to Nationals Radio loudmouth Mike Hosking – wonder what RRM has to say about it – he will no doubt have a FB reference.

  11. Jenny - How to Get there? 11

     
    Auckland slowly, (and painfully), inches its way towards Free Public Transport III

    Auckland's free buses and trains has released a genie out of the bottle

    Todd Niall12:10, Dec 19 2018

     

    The biggest surprise was not that Aucklanders could ride public transport on Friday evening for free for the first time.

    The surprise was that the initiative will cost only $120,000 in lost fare revenue…..

    ….Fare-free public transport after 4pm on Friday wasn't even Auckland Transport's idea, but an optimistic lob from police……

    …..The question of whether this can become a benchmark against which other spending is measured is more intriguing.

    An annual programme of "First-Friday Free public transport afternoons" would cost around $1.5 million.

    That's not much more than was spent on two reports commissioned unilaterally by the mayor Phil Goff, and which now lie in filing cabinets.

    One, paid for by council-owned Ports of Auckland, didn't tell the story which Goff wanted, on the value of the vehicle import trade to Auckland.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/109460592/aucklands-free-buses-and-trains-has-released-a-genie-out-of-the-bottle?rm=m

    The decrease in road accidents is a social good. (which was the police motivation).

    Other social goods for fare free public transport that need to be explored:

    Decreasing traffic congestion during peak times.

    Decreasing air pollution

    Decreasing carbon emissions

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