Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: Choose Wisely, Grasshopper: the Dilemma of James Shaw

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  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s only wrong to the extent that the population is wrong.

    And when the majority/influential minority of population is wrong, things can go very wrong.
    Yes there are loads of caveats when it comes to governing people, but these cant be finessed regularly into a get out of jail free card. And populations are becoming ungovernable in the ways that are presented to them through the voting system. Yep in a few places we're just not keeping up.

    Hey I'd like a population that is fully informed and actively interested in doing what is best for all of us and future generations who will occupy this earth. As well as gainfully employed in productive work, being respectful of the rights of others, caring for loved ones, settling disputes and enjoying their lives
    A government that was reactive to the improving of the well being and harmony of all. Helping those in need or sick, educating the young and maintaining community peace. Oh and fiscally (I hate that word, cause The monetary system needs a good shaking out) responsible. Of course, responsibly and truthfully representing the interests of the country to the rest of the world.
    Maybe when we all get high.
    Self interest kicks in. What are we calling it now? Neoliberalism?
    I should stop being so cynical.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    And when the majority/influential minority of population is wrong, things can go very wrong.

    Sure, there's no form of government that is foolproof. What democracy has over the others is the extent to which the values of the populace in general come to bear on the choices made. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with extensively consulting that value system. Quite the opposite, I think there's something very wrong with believing that the value systems of the populace should play second fiddle to some higher truth, as administered by "leaders" and "experts in politics". It's not like that hasn't been tried as a system - in fact most of human history was like that.

    But of course entire populations can be wrong. We probably are wrong now about a lot of things. But I suggest that on matters that are scarcely factual at all, like our value systems, it's quite hard for populations to be worse than individuals whose own hubris and wealth can easily bring to bear all sorts of considerations that care nothing for the way the bulk of humanity feels about things.

    It's not like the population is too stupid to consult experts when they're out of their depth. Ask a random person what's wrong with a broken car and they know that a mechanic has a better chance of working it out. What they might not accept (and rightly so) is that some generalist intermediary is better at getting the correct information out of the mechanic, and so they should always let the intermediary decide how their car gets fixed. And yet, that is exactly what our relationship with politicians is like.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    If an opinion poll showing that people now want Warrants of Fitness for rentals caused the government to decide that is a good idea, then I’m glad I don’t have to wait until the next election for them to “lead” us into it by putting it in their manifesto and campaigning on it, before doing anything. Responding to public desire (which can itself also lag behind genuine need) isn’t in itself a bad thing. Sure, deaths from poor housing could have been prevented.

    You are being obtuse for the sake of argument. That is not helpful or productive, it is simply a waste of everyones time.

    The fact is there was a bill before parliament that actually addressed the very issue that lead to at least 2 deaths and many more illnesses.

    The fact is National dismissed the bill because they didn't see the point of reducing the profits of landlords merely to protect the public

    The fact is the moment the polls indicated the public were concerned about the health of the public National changed it's mind.

    That is a government failing in its duty to protect and care for its citizens.

    Your idea of poll driven policy is frankly stupid and no amount of waving your philosophy degree around is going to make it less stupid.

    PEOPLE ARE FUCKING DYING BEN!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    SOME OF WHOM HAVE NEVER DIED BEFORE!

    (won't anyone think of the children?)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You are being obtuse for the sake of argument. That is not helpful or productive, it is simply a waste of everyones time.

    You always say that, and it's always wrong. I'm almost never obtuse, except for humorous purposes, which are clearly signalled, for the very reason that it does waste time, including my own. It's quite arrogant to suggest that you know my motivations like this. I'm arguing in good faith about something I believe, the way I usually do. Please do the same and quit making it personal.

    The fact is that every fact you bring up has been the case for thousands of years, just with different names, faces and places. If National changed this, then at least have the intellectual honesty to see that they actually did something good as a result of an opinion poll. Perhaps the public called strongly for this based on evidence. Good on the public, and good on National for listening to the public.

    Your idea of poll driven policy is frankly stupid and no amount of waving your philosophy degree around is going to make it less stupid.

    I'm hardly waving my degree around here, in fact I haven't even brought it up, because it's not relevant. You ought to think about whether such a comment fits the spirit of this site. Poll driven policy is hardly a wild, outrageous idea. It's a fairly standard extension of the idea of democracy, getting around one of the main shortcomings, which is that people don't have time to answer every damned question. But a good sample of people can have the time, and you can get the benefits of democracy without so much of the shocking inefficiency.

    Furthermore, poll driven policy is not even limited to this government. It would be a fair cop on Labour in it's last term that there was a lot of it. It would be a fair cop on a great many democratically elected governments that they went to some efforts to actually find out what the population want, and it's a credit to them in some cases when they do. I highly doubt a lot of the progressive changes we've seen would have ever come if conservative politicians relied only on their own intuition and peer pressure to decide if something should be done.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    PEOPLE ARE FUCKING DYING BEN!

    And sadly there are people out there who aren't merely content with letting people die. If anything they'd be all too happy to pull the trigger. Not quite Anders Breivik's level, but not far from it either.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    The fact is that every fact you bring up has been the case for thousands of years, just with different names, faces and places.

    Obtuse again

    Let me be really specific and see if I can get you to understand why your reversion to the generic philosophical argument makes me so very angry.

    People are living in rental housing in New Zealand that is by any measure unfit for human habitation. If this was sub Saharan Africa that would be fine*, but it is not, it is New Zealand.

    In New Zealand we have had several governments where leaders took taxes and used them to build and maintain housing that was pretty much given to the poor. So that New Zealanders would at least have places to live that were of a standard acceptable in the developed world.

    Note I'm being really specific here.

    Over the last 20 years successive governments have allowed that housing stock to become run down and sold significant portions of it off to landlords to be rented. In addition there has been a huge shift from owned housing to rented.

    It has become clear from numerous sources, in particular the DHBs, that the health of New Zealanders is being damaged by housing that is sub standard, cold, damp, leaky etc etc. A significant portion of that housing is rental housing.

    A bill was put forward to parliament that would set standards on housing that would force landlords (private and public) to maintain houses to a set level. Much the same as we have a WoF for cars that prevents dangerous vehicles from being legally on the roads.

    This National government rejected the bill out of hand. That is a failure of leadership.

    When people died and the issue was highlighted by the media this government responded by proposing essentially the same rules as were in the bill they rejected. It is likely they did polling that indicated they might lose votes if they didn't.

    This is the behaviour I find despicable and that you are defending. To me it indicates a government content to allow its citizens to die unless it looks bad in the polling.

    That is the specific not the generic. It is not a philosophical discussion.

    *not really

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Bart, only a small fraction of rentals are Housing NZ stock. Substandard housing has been a feature of NZ since forever. I grew up in a house that would be considered unsafe by today' standards, drafty, cold, damp. The back lawn was like a literal garbage tip, it took my father weeks to clean it up.

    It's like you're trying to maintain that this is a new problem. It's not. It's not even bloody close. It's not like people died from poor housing in NZ for the first time ever just before National reacted to the media panic about it.

    But looking at what actually happened, we are now in a situation where the government for the first time in NZ history is looking like passing a bill that could surely have been passed 100 years ago if there had ever been the political will to do so. Yeah, they looked at polling and made a good decision. Prior to looking at the polling they made a bad decision. But you want to blame it all on the polling? The polling is the thing that made it better.

    Sure, National should have done this years ago. So should Labour. So should fucking Norman Kirk. But none of them ever did. That's the exact same failure of governance that you're lamenting. With the caveat: In the past it was much worse. I know elderly people who actually lived in houses with dirt floors when they were kids.

    This is the behaviour I find despicable and that you are defending. To me it indicates a government content to allow its citizens to die unless it looks bad in the polling.

    As opposed to letting them die and not even giving a fuck about the polling, like what happened right up until now? I don't think that's better. I think you've got a strange philosophical objection to polling that you are letting cloud your judgement of what actually happened. To the point that it has made you argue that some positive outcome from polling is symptomatic of some underlying evil of polling. Who's being the philosopher here?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    the population is too stupid to consult experts when they’re out of their depth.

    See what I did there : )) Experts in value systems? I bet they are ‘a dime a dozen’. As many as are willing to listen to them I do not know.
    So lets all just figure it out for ourselves, shall we .Right!
    So is there an answer? Well not a short easy one is all I can say.Not anymore.

    Bart

    housing that is sub standard,

    The whole way we build houses and where in this country needs a rethink badly.
    And the way we live! I throw up my hands ; ))

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison,

    Housing. FFS we fucked up as something as basic as housing. That is not a sign of good national governance. H.C Labour let it go to a scandalist level because they were scared of the votes it would shed.

    The feeling of wealth creation was a nice but artificial headline to their already fine economic performance.

    National inherited a problem. They went, “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”. They sleep well. Long term problems will be 2020’s problems, they will all be knighted.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    <too busy to rant!>

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Renting also causes incredibly instability for a family and increases the changing of many schools for any young ones, even one change of school can be a social nightmare for a kid.

    Good stable school environments are a massive incentive to buy housing for a family, the gift of a stable society for your children is massive.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    But looking at what actually happened, we are now in a situation where the government for the first time in NZ history is looking like passing a bill that could surely have been passed 100 years ago if there had ever been the political will to do so.

    As Rob pointed out this IS a new problem.

    100 years ago the problem wasn't the quality of housing it was having enough houses at all.

    30 years ago most houses were either owned or rented from the government.

    It is only recently that two things happened first is the governments sold off a lot of government owned housing stock to private landlords and second is housing prices jumped so rapidly people stopped even trying to own and switched to renting long term.

    This IS a new problem.

    BUT the problem was identified before the recent deaths. It was noted by DHBs and some media. It was the reason the housing WoF bill was introduced to parliament.

    Now for me, at that point a responsible well-led government would have looked at the legislation and said shit we need to do something about this because sooner or later folks are going to die.

    You don't need a poll to tell you that this is a good thing to do. You know damn well there are shitty landlords out there who need some kind of rule of law to make them clean up the shitholes they are renting.

    You are claiming this as a victory for the power of polling and an example of just how wonderful it is to have a government respond to polls.

    I (and others) are decrying this as an example of a government who won't do anything unless it looks like they will lose support ... regardless of the morality.

    That is why I and other despise this PM and his reliance on polling to define for him what is right and wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    HOUSING - big problem for N.Z 2015. One of Maslows basic needs, social grounding.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    In the past it was much worse. I know elderly people who actually lived in houses with dirt floors when they were kids.

    Young people of today, they won't believe yer....

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison,

    Actually living in a corridor is well documented in Fyodor Dostoevsky 's "Crime and Punishment." Renting off a room with a dryish roof is a common past of Europe.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Jack Harrison,

    a dryish roof

    OOh the future's looking rosy then!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to andin,

    It looks damp and wet.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Jack Harrison,

    Actually living in a corridor is well documented in Fyodor Dostoevsky 's "Crime and Punishment."

    Raskolnikov did 8 years in Siberia for a premeditated double murder. Liberal times.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Raskolnikov was fucked up. But he was a good guy. A young Joe Wylie in old Russia, totally fucking confused and terrified of his failings and the future of his only family, his ma and his sister. The guy couldn't handle his family dishonour.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Jack Harrison,

    A young Joe Wylie in old Russia,

    While the confusion is flattering, I suspect you're thinking of Howard DeVoto:
    "I`d`ve been Raskolnikov
    but Mother Nature ripped me off"

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It is only recently that two things happened first is the governments sold off a lot of government owned housing stock to private landlords and second is housing prices jumped so rapidly people stopped even trying to own and switched to renting long term.

    This IS a new problem.

    And now the "landed gentry" with their "housing apartheid" - as the un-socialistic Shamubeel Eaqub describes them in his own words - have become so powerful, that the only things guaranteed to dislodge them are a housing bubble burst or the outbreak of war. Prof Eaqub in the same clip also called for stronger renters' rights.

    THE NATION: SUNDAY JUNE 7, 2015

    My inner Machiavellian tells me there's a way to bring the bubble burst forward without the use of violent force: print enough counterfeit NZD to have the Reserve Bank governor reaching for his brown pants.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    As Rob pointed out this IS a new problem.

    I must have missed it, where did he do that?

    100 years ago the problem wasn’t the quality of housing it was having enough houses at all.

    Semantic games? But I'm meant to be the philosopher here. Unless people were actually on the street exposed to the elements, they were in some quality of shelter. The quality just happened to be, in many cases, extremely shit, and no government was going to legislate to force that quality up, because they'd be forcing people out of barns and onto the actual street. Which could be an outcome here. I doubt it, but I can understand that the solution is not axiomatic.

    This IS a new problem.

    It's been going on progressively my whole life, so no, it's not new. It's just come to a head.

    Now for me, at that point a responsible well-led government would have looked at the legislation and said shit we need to do something about this because sooner or later folks are going to die.

    No arguments there.

    You don’t need a poll to tell you that this is a good thing to do. You know damn well there are shitty landlords out there who need some kind of rule of law to make them clean up the shitholes they are renting.

    Nor there. I found it quite hard to understand in the mid 90s, when flatting, why it was that landlords could get away with renting out mould covered rooms that stank of raw sewerage, had flies in swarms, and had actual blood coming up out of the shower drain. 20 years have passed since then, nothing happened.

    You are claiming this as a victory for the power of polling and an example of just how wonderful it is to have a government respond to polls.

    Yes, that is correct. Now, something has happened. Yes, it could have happened when the bill was raised. Maybe if they'd taken a poll then, it would have. Instead we relied on the so-called expertise of our leaders to do exactly what Labour did before them - nothing. That's where the fail happened, NOT when they did actually respond to the poll.

    That is why I and other despise this PM and his reliance on polling to define for him what is right and wrong.

    I don't like John Key either, but not because he followed a poll. I wish he'd do more of it, with the polls that I care about. What I don't like is his own personal judgment as reflected by his interpretation of his mandate, under which he has actually done things against the polls. There was never any public will for charter schools, for instance. Selling off assets, something his presumable expertise weighed so heavily on, was unpopular. Selling the state houses wasn't as a result of opinion polls, it was all him and his ideological cronies with their taste for inside money wrapped up in fiscal prudence bullshit.

    As for the definition of right and wrong, well, I don't think his own personal opinion is a better guide than the polls, do you?

    See what I did there : )) Experts in value systems? I bet they are ‘a dime a dozen’.

    Yes, they are. That's why I prefer the popular will as a more reliable (but certainly not infallable) guide to what values our government should promote. Because I genuinely don't think that there are moral experts. Not John Key. Not Helen Clark. Not Bart or any team of scientists. Not me. No one. As a society we come to the view that poor housing is unacceptable, and that we are rich enough that we can actually fix it. If Key responded to that, good on him, a pity he didn't do it sooner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    If Key responded to that, good on him, a pity he didn’t do it sooner

    And landlords can pass the cost onto renters. OFFS! So all the Cretin in Chief has to make sure of is the proles have just enough extra money for the upcoming rent increase

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    BUT the problem was identified before the recent deaths. It was noted by DHBs and some media. It was the reason the housing WoF bill was introduced to parliament.

    The long-standing Tenancy Protection Association in Christchurch, headed by Helen Gatonyi, has been asking successive governments for a rental WoF for over 20 years. http://www.tpa.org.nz/

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

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