For some strange reason small children are always impatient to grow up faster.

I suppose they imagine grown-ups have more fun. Of course they couldn't be more wrong but this realisation doesn't dawn until about age 36, by which time there's no going back.

When we children clamoured to be bigger or taller our mother would recommend we put manure in our shoes. This we knew was absurd. Manure made plants grow, not people.

Also, it would not only stink but given the state of pristine polishing in which we were expected to maintain our shoes, was unlikely to be permitted.


Anyway, the only possible height gain from an underfoot layer of ordure was negligible ... after which, having explored this kind of reasoning, sensibly we'd bounce off to find a ladder instead.

The constant financial growth required by the neo-liberal capitalist economic ideology which has reigned here since about 1984 seems just as ridiculous a strategy as manure in the shoes; distracting perhaps but essentially unsustainable, stinky and ineffectual.

The current housing crisis has arisen from the neo-lib spin that houses exist primarily as speculative financial investments rather than as cosy homes. On paper, this creates an illusion of growth while in effect meaning fewer people can own homes or find anything affordable to rent.

Enter Housing NZ, once a collective institution which proudly built state houses so all local citizens could obtain the shelter which is a fundamental human right. With the neo-libs in charge however, their cash-register ideology blinds them to the real need to house people. Instead they require Housing NZ to return a measurable dividend to the Government and since money is all they understand, they fail to maintain state houses, sell them off and evict pesky tenants on to the mean streets of winter and the not-so-tender mercies of private charities and blame victims in order to achieve impressive columns of figures in which no one can live.

The madness of valuing numbers over services also applies to infrastructure such as rail and electricity, although oddly not to roads which inconsistently proliferate at the expense of the public purse and the planet.

Likewise, to promote the illusion of growth, our neo-liberal overlords, in their number-struck absence of wisdom, also encourage immigration, assumedly on the grounds that more is better.

I do not subscribe to this notion. Give me space any day over rent-a-crowd. I just can't see the need for more people from anywhere, unless they're desperate refugees or separated families to whom we have a duty of compassion.

And where are the current 70,000 immigrants per annum all going to live? Logically, since they are not allowed to immigrate without means, they will occupy the limited supply of overpriced housing stock while impoverished locals end up under bridges.


So what kind of community do we want? Do we want beggars at the gates, sick homeless children who can't learn? Certainly I don't.

Were it were my call I'd pause all but compassionate immigration and slash Pollyanna politicians' lavish pay, perks and pensions to pay for more state houses (preferably on a rent-to-buy basis) until everyone already here has somewhere warm and safe to live. That I would count as real growth.