Tag Archives: politics

John Key’s inaction on property: Words not deeds

After reading the article on The Spinoff from Arthur Grimes about bursting the property bubble, and then seeing John Key’s response during his post-cabinet press conference, it made me realise that John Key has no intention of doing anything about improving housing affordability in Auckland. None, whatsoever.

Everything that the National government has announced around the housing situation is aimed at keeping the status quo and making it appear that progress is being made when nothing is actually happening. Words, not deeds, rather than the opposite.

I need to respond to John Key’s assertion that a massive drop in house prices would be bad: this is nonsense.

There are several reasons for this.Firstly, a drop in the average house price doesn’t actually mean that anyoue would need to be worse off. The only real way in Auckland to build a significant amount of additional housing stock is by intensification, that means building more dwellings on the same land, rather than building all the way to Hamilton or Taupo which seems to be the current plan. (Obviously, in reality there needs to be a combination of building up and building out).

A simple example of intensification would be taking a couple of $1,000,000 sections and building 6 2-bed units on the land. These units might sell for $700,000. So the average price has dropped by 30% but no one has lost any money. How is this “crazy”, as John Key described it?

Currently, the value in Auckland properties is mostly in the land. No one is paying for the house, as this article about a pre-fab house on the market for $549,000 shows. Putting more housing on less land is the only way that housing is going to become more affordable in Auckland.

One of Key’s main reasons for not wanting property prices to fall is because buyers would lose money. This strikes me as cynical and putting self-interest ahead of the public interest. If property prices fall on the government’s watch, then National will struggle to get re-elected: it would be the end of John Key’s government.

The government claims that housing needs to become more affordable, but prices can’t be allowed to fall. Logically, this does not make sense. It is nothing but a contradiction.

In addition to being worried about house buyers losing money, I would be interested to know why the government isn’t also concerned about buyers earning a profit out of housing. Any potential future loss would be, by Mr Key’s logic, unearned and possibly undeserved. But is any gain in value not also equally unearned and undeserved? The government is removing any hint of moral hazard and turing housing into a one-way elevator.

So, the government is talking about getting houses built without actually getting any houses built. And it is talking about making housing more affordable without make it more affordable.

A complete failure of ideology at the expense of a whole generation of New Zealanders.

 

 

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You’re either with us or against us?

With the deaths of the two police officers in New York recently, it is becoming more apparent to me that police organisations see themselves fighting a war against the American people. This is not the way it should be.

I was disgusted by tweet from the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York in the wake of the murders in Brooklyn.

It’s very sad that two police officers have gone to work and not come home at the end of the day. But the blood for this murder is on the perpetrator and no one else. Trying to win a public relations war by taking advantage of a tragedy is pretty low. Inexcusable, even.

Killing police officers (or anyone for that matter) is not ever acceptable behaviour. Criticising the behaviour of police is acceptable and should be encouraged in a vibrant democracy, where that criticism is valid.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association appears to be condemning any criticism of the police. This is especially inappropriate in a country like the United States where free speech is such an important part of life there.

Scotland independence: too little too late from Westminster?

I like it when politics is interesting and there aren’t many stories more interesting than the vote for Scottish independence happening next week.

This has become a lot more interesting in the past week for two reasons. Firstly, the opinion polls are getting closer and it looks like more people were favouring independence (“Yes”) over staying in the Union (“No”). Also, there were reports released by several major banks advising investors to expect more volatility and lower economic growth in Britain should independence go ahead.

Now the leading of the major political parties in the UK are taking the prospect of a break-up more seriously and going around and trying to raise support in Scotland from the “No” vote.

To me it seems like they are trying to do too little at this late stage. Months ago, the British government was promoting scare stories about the potential effects of independence. Yet the stories were so absurd and provided little in the way of facts.

The politicians were trying to treat people as if they were stupid in wanting independence. I believe that the converse was actually true: the politicians had no understanding of why Scots might want independence from the United Kingdom.

If you talk to many Scots, they have a dislike and distrust of the Westminster government. Scotland and its people are different from those south of the border. The politicians are much more left leaning. The actions are much less colonial. They feel they have been betrayed over the past few decades, especially by the Thatcher government.

Trying to convince voters with scare stories was never the right move when voters expected lies from the government. This has all the signs of an abusive relationship.

Living in New Zealand, I have no real opinion on whether Scotland should be in or out of the Union but if the PR campaign has been so badly handled by Westminster, maybe Scotland are better off being out. All the scary economic issues will never be as bad in reality as expected.

Note: I should probably link to some articles to back up my claim of “scare stories”. I’m reading a few articles now. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find their own articles.

Russia has won this round of the Cold War

The current argument in Ukraine and Crimea seems like the Cold War is restarting and look like Russia has the upper hand this time.

The United States has intervened in so many countries over the years (or appears to have) that there can’t be many countries where the government hasn’t been taken down by the CIA. I’m probably exaggerating a little here but there is some truth to it, I’m sure. Despite the blatant intervention by the United States in so many countries, their public message is that democracy is the way to go and the will of the people must be heard.

Russia has heard that message and understood. In Crimea, they have decided that there needs to be a referendum to decide the fate of the area. Democracy! They have also decided that the president was taken down illegally and even claimed that the US was behind a coup the helped to change the government. Democracy undermined!

Russia is bringing democracy to the people of Crimea and helping to save them from the tyranny of neo-Nazis. I’m not sure that I’ve seen a propaganda war quite like this one for a long time.

Russia have come out with some good arguments on their position, although I’m pretty sure that it is all propaganda. Their arguments don’t hold up to much scrutiny.

It’s just not possible to have a free and fair election while there are foreign troops on the streets, the two options in the referendum both say that Crimea should revert to Russian control, and the final result has almost certainly been pre-determined.

It’s looking very likely that Crimea is heading eastwards in the next few days. Hopefully Ukraine isn’t following soon afterwards.