Monthly Archives: March 2015

Judges Chapter One

For the little stealing they lock you up and put you in Jail, but kill someone…. .

Today I read how an inveterate offender was sentenced to a total of six years jail.  Continue reading


The Housing Crisis Continued.

One of the enduring and historical problems with the shortage of quality rental properties is how this affects different strata in society.  The law of supply and demand is pretty simple, when a resource is limited, competition to secure that resource means that the price will go up.   Invariably this means that those who earn less are those whom miss out on the resource, in this instance housing, duh nothing new here you say. Low income people have had it like this for many years.  Note carefully, low income does not equate being on a benefit, there are many people who are employed but live on a low income.

In the past this was not such a problem as there was a reasonable safety net provided by way of public housing, mainly provided by central government with a smaller amount provided by local government.  This was not perfect however there was also a lot of employer provided housing from local authorities, railways, electricity companies, police, schools, dairy industry and so forth.  Farms were smaller and offered accommodation for employees as well.  So what has happened to all of this?  Well neo-liberal economic politics essentially, some might say unintended consequences however these consequences were well signalled, further hardship was caused to beneficiaries by what was euphemistically called the mother of all budgets, see here for some effects of that  There was other effects as well, many believed it caused further unemployment and also many small businesses failed or struggled.

The effects of this neo-liberal ideology caused a great deal of discontent with the National Party, they however retained power in the next election.  Some may argue that this is clearly democracy in action however two things occurred, the public voted to remove the first past the post electoral system  (FPP) and replaced it with MMP (mixed member proportional representation).  One of the reasons that the National Party remained in power is that the policy created winners and losers, and unfortunately the winners were people who were more likely to vote and who had political agency.  The end result was not democracy but tyranny, majority rules is not democratic.

This deliberate policy of selling off housing stock and not replacing it with new builds at the same rate created the conditions for a spiralling perfect storm, increasing demand for housing by population growth and decreasing availability.  Once the Auckland factor is added in there is no surprise that so many problems that have their root in the availability of housing are prevalent.  One school in Auckland had a reported 50% pupil turnover in a year, renters talk about 6 properties in a year, and the churn is incredible and costly.  The incidence of Rheumatic fever equals that in many parts of the developing world giving is third world rates of harm to children in vulnerable families. The effects on mental health are obvious as part of the whole neo-liberal policies sees mental health institutions closed down and many ex patients left to find their way in society with an ever shrinking pool of money to assist them.

The problem is that the struggle for people affected by these policies is often invisible.  I have had the opportunity to see into the kitchens and lounges of these people, 15 people living in a three bedroom house is not unknown. I have also unfortunately had personal experience in the rental market, having to live in substandard, un-insulated   cold, damp, mould prone housing due to the lack of affordable healthy housing. I am fortunate to be in my own house now that is relatively warm with reliable heating and a good degree of insulation.

I have laid out a brief synopsis of the issues around housing.  I will turn my attention to solutions in the near future.  In the meantime spare a thought for those who have to endure substandard housing as we venture towards winter, especially the vulnerable in our society, the children and the elderly.


The Non Housing Crisis

In my last post I talked about an Australian company attempting to impose sweat shop type activities in New Zealand, conditions that would not be tolerated in Australia, Continue reading

Cotton On wants sweat shops in New Zealand as well as overseas.

I have been looking for a long time, scouring the shelves, watching out on face book, hearing stories, and facing disappointment on a regular basis.  I had begun to doubt my sanity, surely I must have found it by now.  This elusive treasure that I have been seeking is Continue reading

Two weddings and a few funerals

Weddings and Funerals

I have been thinking about both of these things lately, my son is being a best man at Easter for a friend of his, 20 years old and getting married, the first thought that pops into my mind is don’t,too young, that is informed by a number of narratives, personal experience, societal norms mainly.  A friend of mine attended a wedding recently, too hard she said, too many memories, couples everywhere.  Another friend of mine was expressing similar thoughts about a wedding he is going to.  There is a common thread about these feelings, negative experiences, hurt and cynicism inform them.  I have attended a couple of weddings since I became single, after thinking about them I have to say that I had different attitudes and experiences at both.

Weddings and funerals have a lot of similarities, both take a lot of planning and involve preparation and expense.  They are where friends and relatives come together and share emotions, love, mostly, and grief, yes grief even at weddings.  Sadness and happiness inextricably linked with each other, even at their most base level, grief only comes through knowing love.  Weddings and funerals have elements of loss and gain in them. Rites of passage they are both and they are important milestones in society.

For me they are a reminder of my own singleness, however I am not going to bang on ad infinitum about me.  I am going to talk about regrets.  As I was driving home from Auckland the other day I reflected after another near miss as a camper van took a sudden turn towards me on the express way.  I have had closer experiences with disaster, squashed between a truck and a power pole in a vehicle crash, electrocuted underneath a house to mention a couple of experiences.  I vowed then to live a fuller life without regrets.  Most of the regrets in my life have come from inaction rather than actions I have done.  I counselled someone this week that doing nothing was not an option for them, someone close was dying and they were not sure if they could cope with visiting them.  “paying respects” at a funeral just doesn’t really cut it.

I understand some peoples reluctance when they are going to see someone who is terminally ill, what do you say to them, whispering, weak, wet platitudes, how are you doing doesn’t seem to cut it…..  There are some people who thrive on the drama of death and dying, professional mourners almost, I have experienced these at some funerals and at death bed scenes, noisy and seemingly abject grief which at first glance looks like they must have been extremely close, yet the reality is far different.  Similarly I have been at funerals where people have said they won’t last 5 minutes.

In the case of the former I do wonder if through their very public showing of grief if they are trying to make up for actions past?  Perhaps they are mourning the cost of their own actions.  In the case of the nay-sayers at weddings, I don’t see why they would come to a wedding that they thought won’t last, why would you waste your time, surely the lure of food and drink is not that strong?

A constant theme that emerges at family funerals I have attended is the narrative that we should meet as a family at celebrations of joyful occasions, we just don’t seem to be as close today in terms of contact with aunts, uncles, cousins as I was in growing up.  The effects of separation and divorce hit this as well.

None of these reflections probably come as a surprise to most people I am quite sure, these  is  symptoms of a modern society that is extremely focused on the individual and are a natural consequence of the all-pervading religion of consumerism that drives society today.  Our dog eat dog world is a pernicious sickness that invades and pervades every institution from the church through to that unholiest of places parliament.

I know this because I recognise it, I see it in myself and it disgusts me.  If it is not in something external that I do it is that which I see in my own heart.  I have seen it in a new light recently and I have had to make some decisions about that which I value and give my time to.  It means that some of the things that I have given value have to fall away whilst I concentrate on doing the primary thing that needs my attention and that is being an effective and caring parent.

What does this have to do with weddings and funerals you may well ask.  Weddings and funerals are places where regrets are often remembered.  I hope that I don’t have those regrets at any of those life markers that I attend.  I have enough regrets about things that have impacted on my and my children’s lives already. I do not want to add to that list.  My hope is that you read this and examine your own lives and if need be make some adjustments of your own.

With peace and love,