Garth George: Problems all of our own making

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You have to laugh - otherwise you'd cry - when you look at the chaotic political scene in New Zealand and elsewhere, Europe particularly.

And the huge irony is that all the apparently insoluble problems that afflict our society and others are of our own making.

Instead of from time to time pausing to ponder the long view, over the past 50 years or so we have simply forged ahead, casting aside virtues, values, ethics, principles and traditions in the pursuit of money, property and prestige.

We have allowed ourselves to be "governed" by politicians who believe that a week is a long time in their trade and for whom the long-term view of anything stops at the next election.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

And over that time, the ethic of putting principles before personalities has seen a right about turn so that our politics, and indeed our personal lives, have become besotted with personalities while the principles we once held dear have been discarded as old-fashioned and no longer worth considering.

Hypocritical compromise, to achieve or maintain popularity or profit, has become the order of the day, not just in politics but in business as well.

Take the gambling legislation that is proposed to go before Parliament soon. It gives local authorities a much tighter grip on gambling venues and profits, including the power to reduce the number of poker machines.

Yet at the same time the Government is negotiating with Auckland's huge gambling joint, SkyCity, to build a convention centre in return for being allowed more poker machines and table games.

Then there's the proposed reform of the liquor laws, based on a comprehensive report last year by the Law Commission which recommended raising the legal purchase age to 20, along with a whole raft of other suggestions, to try to overcome the huge booze problems facing our society.

But it seems the best we can hope for from our politicians when it comes to discouraging teen drinking is to split the legal purchase age - 18 on licensed premises and 20 at off-licences - a typical gutless political compromise.

A survey earlier this week showed that Tauranga's Simon Bridges and Rotorua's Todd McClay have not made up their minds on this question - it's known as sitting on the fence.

If they had an ounce of conscience between them, they would frame an amendment to return the all-round legal age to 21, as all American states have done in recent times - with spectacular beneficial results.

Fat chance. But at least Waiariki's Te Ururoa Flavell has already decided to vote for age 20 for all purchases.

And how about providing long-term contraceptives to beneficiaries who keep on having kids? Talk about shutting the gate when the horse has bolted.

I have nothing at all against this proposal but if we had not allowed our politicians to systematically destroy the fabric of our society in the past 30 years or so, I doubt that such a thing would be necessary.

This is particularly so in the area of traditional families, the very cornerstone of any society.

Now, too, we have a Government which, whether oblivious of or contemptuous of public opinion, intends to sell off a number of farms to the Chinese, and to partially privatise strategic public assets.

So even our national identity is up for sale to the highest bidder.

And anyone with half a brain knows where that leads. Just look at the European Union with its common currency.

It is beset with crisis after crisis and is on the verge of engineering its own destruction.

Why? Because those politicians who invented it saw only short-term gain and completely ignored one of nature's most powerful influences - tribalism.

We have sown the wind; now we are reaping the whirlwind.

garth.george@hotmail.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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