It’s ANZAC Day in New Zealand, which tends to make one reflective, contemplative. When I’m reflecting and contemplating, I tend to go ‘big picture’ quite quickly, extrapolating from a single point. In this case, from the folly of men and women from New Zealand dying on foreign battlefields to further the interests of foreign powers. That’s not the point of the post, just the starting point of a train of thought. War being the ultimate expression of disagreement. Disagreement being the starting point of my train of thought.
It occurred to me that none of the ills of our society, and I’m largely talking about New Zealand can ever be put right, because of fundamental disagreement. Most of our population disagrees with what’s good for us because we are blocks of people who believe in and vote for different things, and never the twain shall meet.
All of the most pressing social issues, housing, employment, healthcare, education and transport require massive, unprecedented public spending and societal cooperation. No private enterprise will fund, finance or undertake anything to address the issues facing people who can’t or can only barely afford to be healthy and housed because there’s no money in it. The private sector won’t create massive public transport infrastructure or build schools because there’s no money in it. Half of the electorate don’t believe it’s the job of Government to provide anything for those who don’t or can’t contribute satisfactorily to be considered worthy citizens. Many people don’t vote at all because they say they have no interest in politics, which means they claim to not care how their country is run.
The poor tend to have more children, placing more strain on already creaking health systems and creating demand for more housing and schools which aren’t being built quickly enough, nor will it ever be, because we don’t have the skills, people, will or money to build them. Kiwis don’t like apartments, they want to live in low level dwellings with more space than is necessary. The business’s who build housing in New Zealand do it as cheaply as possible. We do not build quality homes enmasse here. Also New Zealand, geologically, is not really cut out for high rise housing to be an attractive proposition to most people.
The wealthy like to accumulate houses, as many as they can manage, we have tens, probably hundreds of thousands of unoccupied homes in our country, holiday homes, used once or twice a year, if that. Many buy poor quality housing stock, and we have a lot of it, to rent to people who can’t afford anything good, or dry, or safe.
The only way these fundamental inequalities will ever be addressed is if the Government spent hundreds of billions of dollars they don’t have to start fixing them, which will never happen because nobody would vote for it. People tend to vote in their own self interest.
I’m not going to discuss climate change, because we don’t have the investment in infrastructure to do anything substantive to address carbon emissions, we just plant more trees to sell carbon credits to foreign millionaires to offset their private jets. We have no meaningful public transport in New Zealand. There are a few trains and buses in our major cities, but most of us drive because we have no other option for getting around. The kids can shout in the street and Jacinda can attend as many conferences as they like, but New Zealanders by and large aren’t interested, even simple recycling here is problematic and half arsed.
There is no actual solution for the marginalised, because most Kiwi’s don’t interact with them or care about them, the marginalised have no voice nor effective representation. The marginalised have neither power nor influence, so are a statistic and are simply an unsatisfactory continuation of unproductive handwringing by interchangeable administrations.
I looked at the policies of National and Labour at the last election and you could barely slip a fag paper between the primary policies, the big stuff. The difference to most New Zealanders was whether you ended up with Jacinda or Judith as Prime Minister, most Kiwis prefer Jacinda, almost nobody likes Judith. Jacinda and her worthies though, can only achieve what people will vote for or agree to, you can’t enforce fundamental societal shifts on the entire country because that’s totalitarianism and despite what the Jacinda haters say, that’s not how New Zealand works.
However, that’s almost exactly what would be required if we were to actually address all the issues everyone moans about. The lack of housing, the lack of healthcare facilities, the level of poverty in the country which is surprising to most people, well at least to those who aren’t impoverished. The poor quality of our housing stock, the completely inadequate roading infrastructure, the dearth of options for getting around for those who can’t afford or don’t want a motor vehicle.
That’s not going to happen though, because there is no appetite for that sort of thing in New Zealand, instead, any talk of massive public spending is considered socialist at best and communist at worst. The irony is that to address the desires of some sort of utopia of affordable housing, free healthcare, full employment and excellent education, demanded by the general public, or to repair the brokenness which has resulted in generational poverty in the poor parts of the country, a humongous, fully functioning public spending program is required. The public won’t stand for that though. That’s communism apparently. I’m in no way promoting communism or totalitarianism as a solution to New Zealand’s ills, I’m just thinking out loud, as it were. Communism was tried in a few countries and was a spectacular historical failure because ultimately, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Remember? That’s not the answer, there isn’t one.
So, nothing will change, no matter what you do or who you vote for, it’s almost enough to make you disinterested in politics. So what’s the solution? There isn’t one, because there is nothing anyone can, or will do, because not everyone wants the same thing. So don’t worry about it, don’t worry about things over which you have no influence. Not having to worry is a reason to be cheerful.
We are fortunate though, because we live in New Zealand rather than The USA or the UK. The USA is a broken place, over 75 million heavily armed Americans would vote for the return of Trump. You don’t need to know anything more than that.
In the UK, the country is run by a privileged elite who went to the right public schools and devote most of their time looking for ways to enrich their chums and provide a feathered nest for themselves post politics. The electorate are a noisy inconvenience, fed a diverse diet of politically motivated mis-information by the completely political press. The British press are either left or right, there is no middle ground.
Then there is COVID, something worse will come along after we’ve seen COVID off, all the scientific experts agree upon that.
We are an overpopulated, disagreeable planet, making things worse for ourselves every single day because we can’t agree on anything that might make anything better. The only possible impactful policy, which would contribute towards making some sort of beneficial advance in reducing inequality and public funding, is for populations to universally vote for millions of people to pay higher taxes and that simply isn’t going to be allowed to happen. Too many people are quite happy with inequality until it affects them personally and public funding is seen as a leftist agenda, which is a bad thing to at least half the electorate in most western countries.
There are an awful lot of billionaires and churches squirrelling away trillions of dollars in unpaid taxes, globally significant amounts. The sort of money that could make real differences to tens of millions of people. That tax won’t be requested or paid though, because no politician or government will take on the big money and influence, because that big money and influence would simply move elsewhere, too somewhere more accomodating. Plus half of the electorate believes you should be able to hoard as much fortune as you can acquire, regardless of the morality of the means of acquisition. Pursuit of personal wealth over social justice is a primary driver of much of the western world. So despite higher taxes being the only realistic means of any beneficial societal impact, it’s never going to be something a majority vote for, despite it being in their best interests. Not so much turkey’s voting for Christmas, more like turkey’s voting against the abolition of Christmas.
More reasons to be cheerful? You’ve read this far, which means you can read and have spare time on your hands. That’s nice isn’t it?