Monday, 10 June 2013

on home ownership

i've finally managed to get some time to write about stuff - here's a post over at my website about the hectic weekend i've had.

i was listening to morning report on my way to work & heard this item on home ownership.  it's basically a couple of economists trying to convince us that nz'ers should no longer dream of home ownership.  instead we should be content with renting, although they do tell us that the rental market needs to change so that people can rent for the long-term.  nice of them.

until the rental market changes, what are people supposed to do?  and who exactly are they to be renting from?  in the world these economists are telling us to aspire to, we would have one class of people who get to own property to rent out, and another class of people who would always be renting.  The perpetual tenants are apparently able to build up just as much wealth as the property owners, simply by saving & investing the difference between what they pay in rent & what they would have paid towards a mortgage.

if that's the case, then they would build up enough wealth to buy a house, surely?  so they may as well just own the house they live in.  this is assuming, also, that there are in a position to make savings.  the problem at the moment, the reason why the home-ownership dream is becoming impossible for an increasing number of people, is precisely because they don't have enough left over to save.

but more than that, if you listen to the clip, don't you just love (ie really hate) how they dismiss "emotional" reasons for owning a home.  as if emotions have no value, no basis in logic and reason.  as if emotion is a thing that is divorced from and inferior to rationality.  which is nonsense.  if owning a home has some benefits that are based on emotional reasons, then those reasons will impact on your general feeling of well-being, and therefore your mental health.

a paper by charles waldegrave, robert stevens & peter king (which i can't seem to link to, but you can find a pdf via google), makes the following point:

Home ownership often provides an accruing asset which changes people’s perceptions about themselves in positive and independent ways. It also has the extra advantage of providing freehold ownership in later years when most senior citizens are not part of the work force.

home ownership also has the benefits of providing stability, better educational outcomes for children & better health outcomes.

so what would be the purpose of trying to convince people that they should give up the dream of owning their own home?  it could be to distract from the fact that one of the main barriers to home ownership is income inequality.  it could be to try to get us to accept that nothing can be done to make homes more affordable.  there's always that pressure to make more land available to developers, which you will also hear mentioned in the interview, as if big sprawling cities will solve the home ownership problem.  if you can't afford the transport to get to your job or to decent schools; if there aren't decent amenities & council services, and the cost of these are added to your house, then more land isn't the answer either.

the whole tenor of this piece, and of the advice given by the economists interviewed, was so defeatist.  i found it alarming.  it's when we give up hope & stop agitating for change, when believe things can never get better, that's when the already powerful & wealthy become even more so, and when the lives of those in poverty get worse.  we can do better than this.  it's just a matter of public will, which will then translate to political will.

i've been thinking of bob marley for some reason today, and so i'll leave you with this as inspiration:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

immigration maths

i've been shifting some of my blogging over to my website, so feel free to check it out.  today i've just done a post on the proposed changes to liquor licensing laws in hamilton.

also, i got this from someone on facebook.  it's an excellent takedown of some the anti-immigrant rhetoric that's going around:

Monday, 3 June 2013

how it should be done

i've been trying to take a bit of a break this weekend - not always successfully! - mostly because it's the last long weekend in a long while.  and also because i'm going to be incredibly busy next weekend, so am trying to build up reserves.  i'll be at a leadership seminar on saturday, and on sunday will the be MC'ing at the regional interfaith forum.  if you're able to get along to the latter, please do register by wednesday.  it'll be an interesting event, and we will have the race relations commissioner in attendance.  i'm looking forward to meeting up with her.

i was watching the political debate on native affairs, maori television this evening.  although i can't vote in the by-election, i know one of the candidates reasonably well so i'm quite interested in seeing how the election plays out.  the one thing i can definitely say is that i was very impressed with the way the debate was conducted.

not only was the interviewer/moderator well informed, but she asked really challenging questions of all the candidates. mihingarangi forbes has a quiet but very effective interviewing style.  unlike the interviewers on political shows that air on tv1 & tv3, she doesn't badger the person she's interviewing, she allows them to finish their answer but she doesn't really allow them to get away with not answering.  and when they do evade the question, as the maori party candidate did on the issue of male leadership of the party's political wing, it looked quite bad.

but more than that, i was impressed with the respect the candidates showed each other.  they didn't feel the need to talk over each other, they all listened respectfully when it wasn't their turn to speak.  they all spoke to the issues and the policies, and didn't feel any need to personally attack or denigrate each other.

this is the way political debating should be, and i can only express my utmost respect for the candidates, the interviewer and for maori television who have once again shown us how it can & should be done.  they have also reminded me why i can't bear to watch the nation or Q&A, even though i'm a person who is politically engaged and enjoys watching political issues being debated.  i think the only person who approaches this level on the other channels is john campell, who i have been watching more of in recent weeks.

so well done maori tv, and i'm now looking forward to the one-hour debate on june 24.