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We truly are being run by a bunch of clowns

Written By: - Date published: 8:55 am, July 13th, 2016 - 29 comments
Categories: accountability, national, national/act government, paula bennett, Politics, same old national - Tags: , ,

National cabinet muppets

National is usually a formidable opposition. Given its resources, its extensive polling and focus grouping to work out lines that will appeal to ordinary New Zealanders as well as the superficially impressive arrogance shown by its representatives it impresses some people as the natural party of government.

This current Government has refined these campaign techniques to a fine art.  But there are two basic weaknesses, there is a blind indifference to the poor unless there is a clear political price to pay and National is completely incapable of responding to quickly changing issues because it is so dependant on measuring and mimicking public opinion.

Because of these weaknesses the homeless issue has crept up behind National and bashed around the head with a piece of four by two leaving it dazed and confused.  It has been completely indifferent to the issue and now finds itself in a crisis.

This crisis has been brewing for years.  A responsible Government would have taken some action some time ago.  This Government has taken no action because its Auckland supporters were becoming incredibly rich through land value increases and to take action would breach that most fundamental of rules for right wing governments that under no circumstances should the state be allowed to show that it can actually achieve good.

And this is why the housing crisis is such a potent destabilising issue for National.  It is a perfect storm of circumstances that will challenge National.  And the really bad news for the government is that the problem is not going to abate soon.

The situation was manageable when the perception was that the homeless were also recipients of state benefits.  Then the tried and tested mantra questioning their moral wealth and implying that their situation was their personal fault provided a degree of protection.

But when it became evident that kiwis with jobs were also homeless or living in their cars then public opinion turned dramatically.

John Campbell’s handling of the issue has really ignited the public discussion.  His interviews of an eleven year old girl of well above average intelligence who just wanted light so that she could do her homework and read books and the further interview of a 16 year old receiving treatment for cancer clearly tipped public opinion on its head.

Kiwis do believe that New Zealand is an egalitarian society.  Beneficiary bashing will only go so far before people question what a Government is doing for allowing poverty to become so rampant.

Recent Government actions display more than a hint of panic.  Labour’a announcement clearly caught them on the hop and posed the additional problem that it addressed the issue on multiple fronts with a coherent proposal to fix things.  It also provided a contrast with Labour wanting to just build houses and National for doctrinal reasons wanting to sell houses.

The machinations about the here today gone tomorrow Housing Corp dividend have been mind boggling.  Bennett claims that the proposal to forgo the dividend had been considered for months.  So why were the figures in the budget?  Were they trying to pull a swifty, bolstering the budget surplus with the dividend income while intending all along to forgo the dividend income?

Latest diversionary attempts by National have been Paula Bennett’s announcement of 140 temporary emergency houses being built in South Auckland and Nick Smith’s announcement that the maximum house cost that Kiwisaver contributions can be used for will be increased.

As for Bennett’s announcement the houses will take 12 months to construct.  It is a good idea but why has it taken so long for this plan to be put in place?

Smith’s announcement reflects how far out of control the Auckland market is.  From the Herald:

In August 2013, when Smith announced the Auckland cap was rising from $350,000 to $485,000, he predicted that it would “treble the number of Welcome Home loans”.

“The number of Aucklanders accessing the [KiwiSaver] first-home deposit subsidy is expected to grow from 1030 to 3000 a year, and Welcome Home loans from 52 to 867 per year,” he said then.

In fact, only 1139 KiwiSaver deposit subsidies were paid out in Auckland in the year to March this year, and Welcome Home loans in the city have dropped from a peak of 133 in the year to June 2014 to just 74 in the year to last month.

Expect more piecemeal announcements from the Government on housing issues.  Expect them to stand up in Parliament and at public meetings and rattle out a bullet list of things they are doing to address the problem.  But their problem is that in the public mind they are being held responsible for this crisis.  As they should be.

29 comments on “We truly are being run by a bunch of clowns ”

  1. Reddelusion 1

    I think you over reach here Mickey re scale of homelessness and the lefts definition of such, similarly housing crisis, again it may exercise you and your mates but s lot of people also see the political BS as well re the real facts of the situation and solutions Next few polls will tell, I suggest again you will be disappointed and the same old rot will trotted out by the left re the media, people are stupid blah blah

    • adam 1.1

      It seems to be the only people calling people stupid is you Reddelusion. I like how you blame others for it, so you can smugly slip that line in.

      So 43,000 people in dire need of accommodation – Otago University Study. So not a far left definition by any measure. Plus, I’ve gone around in the mornings to talk to the homeless, and the fact they are now all across Auckland is breath taking. Maybe you sleep in a late Reddelusion and don’t take the time to be up that early? Or maybe you are in you wee bubble, and have a real inability to look at reality?

      As for political BS, what is political BS? Just seems another attempt at a deflective meme from those who are already rabidly and stridently ideological. It is tiresome reading your ideological claptrap Reddelusion, it really is.

    • left_forward 1.2

      You are suggesting then ‘Mr Delusion’ that the ‘right’ has a different definition of homelessness to the left. Seems to be a condition that would pretty hard for the right to get confused about – i.e. ‘without a home’. I think the BS is with you – the facts and reality certainly aren’t.

  2. Paul 2

    Is this political BS?

  3. Greg 3

    Why do politicians ignor policy for single people, and that women are living longer by 5 years, its just a constant struggle.
    Not all baby boomers got on the property latter or otherwise.

  4. RedLogix 4

    Even Don Brash can see it. Relying on the market alone, Akl house prices have to collapse by 60% to ever become affordable within two generations.

    Even if the bubble stopped tomorrow Income inflation is rising too slowly to catch up within 50 years.

    Adding supply will not make any difference, at least 30,000 houses in Akl are empty already.

    The only people who can afford the current prices are cashed up overseas investors or existing speculators leveraging their current ponzi equity.

    There is no ‘easy’ way out of ponzi bubbles. Either they pop painfully, or the govt has to step in with draconian measures:

    1. Stop immigration. Totally. Require 10 years citizenship and NZ income to be eligible to buy any property.

    2. Steven Keen proposed one extreme measure that is the only way he could see to manage out of it; give everyone $500,000 on the condition that if you had debt you had to pay it down. Sounds dramatic, yet a number like this is what is needed to deal to this.

    3. Impose strict borrowing limits; no bank can lend more than 10 times the imputed rental income on any property. If for instance the rental income would be $20k … then the upper total limit on borrowing would be $200k.

    4. If you are going to increase supply, ensure it is done as leasehold land only to prevent speculation.

    • Graeme 4.1

      Interesting points there RL, but with consequences.

      1. Stop immigration – Easy fix, will kneecap demand. But since immigration is all that’s keeping the economy afloat at present could get very messy really fast.

      2. Massive bail out. – The GFC response all over again. Then it was banks holding most of the debt, now it’s individuals. Will just perpetuate the behaviour of lenders, and the next tranche of borrowers as no one learns from the consequences of their actions.

      3. In effect a 50% deposit requirement. Severely regressive, virtually no effect on those with coin or assets, hell on the bottom.

      4. Controls on titles or tenure. Doesn’t need to be leasehold, but that would be very effective with the right model. KiwiBuild appears to be a mixed ownership model where there will be covenants sharing capital gains for a period. Our Wakatipu Housing Trust does a similar thing by captive ownership / sales. At the other end of the market Millbrook keeps very tight control over property sales within the resort. This moderates speculation and controls forced sales.

      We experience periodic boom – bust cycles in our housing market going back a very long time. Maybe we should be looking at the market and tenure models for reform, rather than trying to poke and prod them to work when they break.

      Covenants on sales, or a form of sale sharing capital gains for a 5 or 10 year period

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        ” Massive bail out. – The GFC response all over again. Then it was banks holding most of the debt, now it’s individuals. Will just perpetuate the behaviour of lenders, and the next tranche of borrowers as no one learns from the consequences of their actions.”

        How can it perpetuate the behaviour of lenders if you consolidate them, give non profit KiwiBank half the market, and clamp down hard on their remaining activities.

      • RedLogix 4.1.2

        Will just perpetuate the behaviour of lenders, and the next tranche of borrowers as no one learns from the consequences of their actions.

        In isolation yes, but combined with other measures it would work. Keen’s point was that bailing out the banks merely kept them in business, it didn’t necessarily stimulate new demand. While bailing out individuals has a huge stimulatory effect because they will spend it. Massively. It doesn’t have to be done all in one hit, but over say a five year period it might work.

        In effect a 50% deposit requirement. Severely regressive, virtually no effect on those with coin or assets, hell on the bottom.

        Again start at say 20 times and reduce it by 1% per annum for a decade.

        I agree there are lots of options we should be considering; some of them seem quite radical at first glance … but then when I was a kid the idea of a $1m median price for Auckland homes seemed insane too.

        • Graeme

          I suppose you could also add to the list

          5. Just stand well back and let it crash…

          Probably what’s going to happen, will be sad for some and happy times for others like the other 4 options, so unlikely to result in meaningful reform. The real solution is taking housing out of our investment portfolio. That’s a major cultural change and going to take more than minor tinkering. To do that needs a consensus like we had briefly when we turned away from Muldoonism. Big ask in current climate.

  5. jcuknz 5

    Yes RedLogic I have wondered if leasehold land was a way of making houses less expensive …. like Molly’s posting awhile back where a couple built their home on a trailer for $26,000 BUT HOW MUCH WAS THE LAND TO PARK IT ON.

  6. Keith 6

    Yep Nationals bullshit “raft of measures” which are many do nothing to address any of the housing problems and they were never meant to. They wanted everything left just the way it was. That’s the problem, confronted with a run away train bearing down on them National simply put up pictures of a train with a smiley face standing at station platform and thought that would suffice, it hasn’t.

    But here in lies the other problem with that, National have got away with this illusionary method for years and nothing has been said. It is now very tragic for those without homes or even able to afford to live in one.

    • TC 6.1

      +1 they have no intention of upsetting the speculators and foreign funds that prop up the ponzi scheme they know is making the economy look better than the actual reality.

      Stand by for a combination of world class spin, diversions and blame combined with minimal dead rat consumption to try and blag another term.

  7. Pat 7

    announce a large state building program of homes for capped price sale and state rental,place covenants on those sales to restrict speculation (sound familiar?) AND curtail immigration and non resident ownership where possible and watch the market rapidly retreat to a level that is supportable by local incomes.

  8. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 8

    Another point is if house prices remain unaffordable for the next generation then we lock in a modern version of a patrimonial landed gentry society.

    Where those who can inherit or be gifted wealth can get on the property ladder, live the good life, have the kiwi dream…. whilst those who come from poorer backgrounds are locked out…..

    In other words the do nothing option means choosing to give away NZ’s fair go, back the underdog, egalitarian society.

    Thanks National you really have made a mess of things……

    • LilaR 8.1

      “In other words the do nothing option means choosing to give away NZ’s fair go, back the underdog, egalitarian society”
      Which was never what National and its ilk wanted in the first place, and neoliberalism has enabled it to achieve exactly what it’s always wanted, i.e. a society of what you refer to as landed gentry, and a mass of those so impoverished they’ll put up with anything just to scrape some sort of basic living. 🙁

  9. Guerilla Surgeon 9

    Get out of this bubble and go and look at some of the comments on other websites. There’s not a lot of sympathy for poor people in this country. Years of social engineering have made that mean streak we used to hide socially acceptable.

    • adam 9.1

      Is it though? I find what most people may say on forums like this they would not say in real life.

      And the idea that we can look down on those we perceive as lower than us has to have a quasi moral component. And looking at the other forums – it just seems a dedicated few feel comfortable venting their hateful rants with impunity. If you pull someone up for saying that in public, and watch them backtrack.

      Bullies of all stripes need standing up to. People who think it is OK to bully and hate on the weakest of society are the ones you need to stand up to the most.

    • b waghorn 9.2

      Yeap 8 years of the “cant feed em don’t breed em ” meme, added to the vibe of if you don’t aspire to riches there’s something wrong with you, is spawning a hateful culture in this country.

      • Johan 9.2.1

        National is generally comfortable with their policies. They may massage them from time to time to keep a few conservative minded people from voting NZF or labour.
        The real problem, as has been mentioned many times, is that the above disenfranchised people probably wouldn’t bother to vote.

  10. kappanz 10

    Good going, mickey. The clowns are over their heads in lies. Now let’s get the impoverished poor’s votes with more compassion and fire. And boot the TPPA for good.

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    When the lions enter the ring the clowns depart. One way or another.

  12. NZJester 12

    I wish they were a bunch of clowns, but they are not. Clowns are amusing and fun to watch making me happy. Nothing the National party has done amuses me. They have just the opposite effect of giving me depression and despair instead.

  13. Philj 13

    There was a very critical piece by Professor Hodgetts in an interview by Wallace Chapman, on RNZ Sunday, about the way the welfare state has been systemically dismantled and largely destroyed by NZ governments. Wallace was taken aback and learned quite a lot… The Professor was particularily scathing about the way people have been demeaned and punished by a system which has failed them, and not the other way round. It was uplifting to hear on Radio New Zealand an alternative challenging narrative to what we are continually hearing and seeing in a our ‘Lamestream Media’

    Darrin Hodgetts on ‘welfare with a big stick’


  14. Richard@Down South 14

    Until you cut out the huge profit from Property (no CGT atm), there will be a huge incentive to make easy profit off housing… I have no issue with people making money off their money, but they should pay tax on it, and housing should be for housing first and foremost

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      making money off their money

      Otherwise known as bludging.

      • ropata 14.1.1

        That’s capitalism. Ticket clipping and using the system to screw over your neighbour. Side effect is widespread poverty, but who gives a shit because its a bonanza for the top few %.

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