I wonder what ultra-rich people are truly good for, apart from braying noisily in posh restaurants and getting their lavish holiday homes (the country is desperately short of actual homes, but never mind) written up in interior decorating magazines.

I ask because while the world either tackles, or is indifferent to, the huge refugee crisis in North Africa and the Middle East, we give entry priority here to people like them ahead of people in desperate need.

This hasn't happened yet, as far as I know, with millionaires of dark skin and impenetrable foreign accents, but it seems to be easy for people who look like us, or who are Chinese, say, who we believe are hard-working and clever, and therefore will enrich the country in the long term.

They've arrived in such numbers that we believe they've pushed property prices up, which makes everyone who owns a property feel smugly rich momentarily even if they're not.


Our history with refugees isn't flash. We weren't good about letting Jewish refugees in as the Nazis began persecuting them, but after the war we invited the Dutch because, I suspect, they were mostly Protestant, like us, had the same skin colour, ate similar food, and had a reputation for being very clean.

The Poms, of course, have come as of right, and I bet nobody asked Maori what they thought. Did we ever?

Asked what Waitangi Day means to her, an Auckland woman this week said she gets fed up with the "goings-on" at Waitangi each year, and asked, "Can't we just get along as one race?" I think I know which race she meant.

I'm bored by the annual theatrics at Waitangi too, but at least they focus on the fact that old grievances are still alive, and probably always will be. You can't colonise a country with the help of guns, confiscate land, and expect gratitude.

Businessman Gareth Morgan announces the formation of the Opportunities Party. Photo/File
Businessman Gareth Morgan announces the formation of the Opportunities Party. Photo/File

One thing rich men are not good at is politics, and they're better out of it. Bob Jones' New Zealand Party didn't do too well, and I don't think Gareth Morgan will get the chance to play God either. Toying with other people's futures is better left to board games. The real thing is too serious.

In any case Donald Trump is proving that however rich you are, making a lot of money just means you're good at making money.

In itself that's neither interesting nor helpful to other people, and it can be downright antisocial, as in not paying your fair share of tax, having the cheek to boast about it, and not paying your bills.

You can't call Trump a politician because he seems to have only a vague grasp of how his country works, its history, and why simple safeguards like the independence of the judiciary are vital to any democracy.


After years of intimidating people through his lawyers he seems to think the entire legal system and the courts should be equally open to the mighty power of his money, and that being president means he can do what he likes.

I don't blame him for that since he has a loyal gang in the background clapping his every move.

Such people are always footnotes to history, and not in the nicest way.

When a president publicly calls out a judge and calls him "wrong", as Trump did with the judge blocking his refugee and immigration ban, and says the judge will be to blame for any future atrocity in America, you've got to wonder what he's up to. His lawyers say Trump has a "sovereign prerogative". What next? I see him in a toga.

The very people who voted for Trump will suffer if he succeeds in dismantling Obamacare, which goes to show that democracy is wasted on voters who don't think, and who elect people based on feelings and grievances.

With a leader who operates the same way, and doesn't seem to have a basic knowledge of how his country works, they're in for an interesting time in the sense of the Chinese curse.

Meanwhile here, in a country that doesn't matter much, we're in for what will probably be a boring election later this year. Our politics are tame compared with most of the world, and that's the way I like it.