The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
October 8, 2014

Is Bill English as stupid as Jonny English?

It’s a pity that JohnKey has already completed his cabinet reshuffle, as he seems to have missed a prime candidate for dropping due to idiocy. No, not Hekia Parata (well, yes, she seems to have been overlooked as well) but Jonny Bill English. It’s hard to believe that this man was once put forward as a candidate for Prime Minister – the same could be said about David Cunliffe of course – but English really hasn’t a clue about anything. Mr English gives the English a bad name…

Jonny-Bill is in the papers today saying “it is illegal to build a house for under half a million in Auckland”. It’s not just a stupid statement but it is factually wrong, and while the intent of the statement is understood (that it is actually almost impossible for a homeowner to get a home for under $500k in Aucklamd), it is yet another stupid statement from the Minister for Stupidity.

His previous mammoth stupid statement of note was when he was discussing how to get houses to be cheaper, and his reponse was that we couldn’t afford good design, and so we might just have to have ugly instead. As if Ugly comes cheaply and Design comes expensive. I’ve seen plenty of houses worth quite a bit in Aucklamd recently where it is obvious that ugly comes as standard, even with a high price bracket. English was a farmer before entering politics (I think, dairy?) and perhaps this level of intellect goes down well with the cows back in the milking shed, but we deserve better from our politicians.

We really can’t have people this ill-informed and this stupid running the country. Why on earth did New Zealand vote this bunch of idiots back in again? At least the fat woodwork teacher has been relieved of transport as a portfolio, but then it has been given to the gormless Simon Bridges, who knows about transport structures in surname only. Transport, our largest use of energy, our biggest cost in petrol and diesel, our largest use of fossil fuels, now in the hands of a child who doesn’t believe in climate change. Great. Just great.

Nick Smith, who somehow is a doctor having done a PhD in Engineering (some topic like stabilizing flood banks or the Clyde dam, I recall), is luckily removed from being the Minister of Conservation (which goes to the gardening correspondent, Maggie Barry, which sounds vaguely more appropriate), but instead he becomes the Minister of Building and Housing and Construction. Since Maurice “big gay rainbow” Williamson took a dive over Donghwa Liu, I think we have been rudderless in the ministerial world. Now we have Minister Smith, who allegedly is not as stupid as he looks, to be in charge of the Ministry of Housing.

First action of the Ministry, announced yesterday: Housing New Zealamd is to sell off their housing stock. It’s not a surprise, although the speed of it might be. Jonny-Bill had already sold off everything else owned by the Government last term, and so he needs to ideologically strip the country from governmental ownership of anything remaining. Remember that the doctrine of National is that the Market knows best, and that Government is inherently incompetent at doing anything itself. Certainly the Government seems intent on proving that it is incompetent, but expect a wave of selling of Housing Corp houses off to private owners, who will then do them up with a minimum of work, and flick them on for a profit. They’ll be offered for sale in seem cases to the original tenants, but it’s likely that in most cases the tenants won’t be able to afford the mortgage, and so they’ll be screwed again.

The logic then is that, like Britain, private sector providers will stand up to offer housing to the poor and dispossessed. At the moment this is limited to groups like the Salvation Army, although as a religious organisation I’m not sure they are the right model. How would we feel if Density Church, or fundamentalist Muslims set up housing associations? What Nick Smith wil be working towards will be smaller Housing Associations that buy land, develop new houses on it, rent it out at low market rates, and claim government subsidies to make it worthwhile. It is a system where the private sector gets to clip the ticket all the way through, thereby rewarding the property owning sector once again. They’ve had this system in Britain for decades, and sometimes it works well, with innovative housing systems and exciting new develepmemts on tiny bits of land. But sometimes too it all turned to custard – I lived next door to a Housing Association owned place in London once, and the HA had little or no control of the mentally unstable drunken inhabitants, much the same as NZHC has little control over the patched inhabitants of Farmers Crescent. I wish that we could actually learn from other countries mistakes, instead of just blindly copying them.

But we shall see. It may be that Minister Smith is more well informed than Minister English, and if so, I welcome the possibility that we will see a new Renaissance in public housing design. Pigs might fly of course, but there is a small chance for Smith to perform. Here’s hoping.

Maximus
8 - 10 - 14

Hmmm, I seem to have been more than usually grumpy this morning. Anyway – no idea what has brought it on, but is it linked to a sudden massively huge increase in Spam attacks over the last few days. Normally we would get about 10-20 spam per day – but recently we have been having about 300 spam per day. Weird. Perhaps the five-eyes project has spied on my disapproving post and decided to take vengeance on me via unleashing a bonnet on the Fish.

Unlikely though.

Carringtonia
8 - 10 - 14

Entertaining read as always Maximus, but I think you are doing community housing organisations a disservice by calling them the ‘private sector’ – as not for profit organisations, most of them get by on the smell of an oily rag and a huge amount of goodwill to provide quality houses and other services for people in need. I’m not talking about the Salvation Army here, but about local organisations such as Wellington’s Dwell. They can make government subsidies go much further than HNZC by leveraging with private funding.

Maximus
8 - 10 - 14

Carringtonia – thank you – I agree that that is the theory – that they make the money go further – but you probably know as well as I do that in the UK there are thousands of these Housing Associations, each of them with a small coterie of workers to run the thing, and find suitable people to live in their particular houses. There was a Housing Association for people of Caribbean descent live in Camden, and another for people from Kurdisatan living in Hackney. Presumably I’m just being old-fashioned, but having one centralized agency providing housing should mean, in theory at least, that there is more money in the pot to go around. But that theory is now looked on as out-dead, communist-era thinking, and if there is one thing a farmer from the deep south is scared of, it’s reds under the bed (not sure if you were here for that particularly shameful episode in NZ’s history, but there was a long period of commie-hysteria running through the country – still visible in some Nats today).

Alan
9 - 10 - 14

Seems like somebody agrees with you that the Minister is a bit simple:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11339470

Carringtonia
9 - 10 - 14

Housing associations vary hugely in the UK – there certainly are specialist organisations, but there are also a lot of housing associations that provide for general needs (I used to work for one), and some are very large. Some are definitely better than others, and we certainly shouldn’t blindly follow what has been done in the UK (the scale is completely different, for a start). But the main point I wanted to make was that community housing organisations here are not out to make a quick profit and do some very worthwhile work with local communities. I’m learning new things about NZ politics all the time – when were we worried about reds under the bed?

Maximus
9 - 10 - 14

Reds under the beds? Well, all through the 70s it was a big thing, but probably the most notable occasion was when Muldoon was in power, wanted to stay in power, and so National had an advert on TV, featuring the legs of marching Cossacks – implicating (or did they actually say?) that if you voted for Labour, you’d actually get Communists in power. Biggest load of absolute cods wallop ever, but the public bought the argument, and kept voting National. There is probably a video of it somewhere…

Grant
9 - 10 - 14

Well, you got most o the details wrong, but the intent is there. Have a look at this instead:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbevFguT6NE

Maximus
10 - 10 - 14

Ah yes, well, funny how the memory plays tricks. Thank you Grant. So, it seems that National were not in power, but Labour were, and Muldoon used the dancing Cossacks in cartoon form to frighten voters into thinking that Labour’s superannuation system would be a terrible thing. It seems now that most people agree that it would actually have been a really good thing. Regardless, we never actually had any Cossacks or communism in Power in NZ.

Maximus
10 - 10 - 14

Update on Spam, in case anyone is listening and has the faintest glimmer of interest: this blog has been going for about 7 or 8 years, and in that time it has resisted about 30,000 spam. Since posting this particular article, I’ve had well over 1000 spam just in the last 2 days. Extraordinary. But, so, if you post any comments here with ore than one link, i’m not going to find it – it will be going straight to Spam hell, to burn to a crispy toast forever.

Carringtonia
11 - 10 - 14

Enjoyed that clip – thank you. Who would have thought that superannuation would lead to collective farms?

Maximus
11 - 10 - 14

Dominion Post editorial:
“The Government is not being upfront about its plans for housing. It is obvious that it intends to sell off a fair chunk of its $15 billion state housing stock. That is why Finance Minister Bill English has been given responsibility for that area – he is the Government’s privatiser and its value-for-money man. But this raises a series of problems.
If the Government is simply extending its privatisation agenda, it is practising ideology and it is suspect. National didn’t say during the election campaign that it would sell, say, $5b of state housing stock, and it has no mandate to do so. Perhaps that is why both English and Prime Minister John Key are so vague about how much of the money from these sales the Government will put into low-cost housing…”

Maximus
14 - 10 - 14

Spam update – i think that the GCSB must have infiltrated the SpamBot and shot it down. Yesterday, well over a 1000 spam a day – today, so far only 5. It’s all a Communist plot….

Maximus
4 - 11 - 14

….and, as predicted, here is the Government selling off the State housing, to private organizations. Like the Sallies.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10696338/Social-housing-heading-to-private-groups-in-sell-off