If there is to be any hope for the future, the revelation that hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted cleaning houses not polluted with methamphetamine to a degree that threatened occupants' health will lead to the exposure of all sorts of rules and regulations as a house of cards.
We are told, ad nauseam, by climate change alarmists that the 'science is settled,' that those who do not accept that mankind's emissions are destroying our planet no longer have a sustainable argument.
Most would accept that the climate is changing, but claims that we are responsible for that ignore the fact that it has undergone radical change in the past, long before humans had any capacity to influence it.
Whatever, the urgent need to reduce emissions is now accepted without question by those who have the ability to force change upon us, their view tending to be that we will be okay if we, in New Zealand at least, eschew pastoral farming, particularly dairy farming, and if we pay more taxes.
One's faith in the qualifications of some of these people to tell us what we must do is not strengthened by politicians like James Shaw, who, with a straight face, told us last week that we could do our bit by going meat-free one day a week. How that might reduce emissions defies all explanation, unless Mr Shaw expects that tofu Fridays will reduce our national beef herd/lamb flock by 1/7th, but it illustrates how obsessed politicians have become with whacky theories.
But the science is settled, isn't it? Just like the science that said that living in a house where someone has smoked methamphetamine is bad for our health. Only it wasn't settled. In fact it was non-existent according to the government's chief science adviser.
It was myth, one that the rest of the world never bought. Just us.
We have become so attuned to believing what we are told that we no longer question the experts. We don't even question the basis of their expertise.
Many of the moronic rules and regulations that govern us don't rely on science at all though. They seemingly arise from a determination to ensure that all possible risk is eliminated from life in New Zealand, whatever the cost of that might be, financially and in terms of the ability to live our lives free of an increasingly cloying blanket of bureaucracy.
You don't have to look far for examples. Horticultural sprayers who use tractor-mounted towers must now use a ladder to climb said towers, while someone else holds the ladder.
Some years ago a Far North woman told the writer that the man who cleaned her chimney every year told her that he could no longer do so.
Thanks to the fact that someone somewhere had fallen off a roof, while fiddling with a TV aerial, he was now required to use all sorts of safety gear that would save him from the same fate (a broken leg). He could not afford to comply, and if he did she wouldn't be able to afford to hire him. So he wouldn't be cleaning her chimney any more.
Her house insurer demanded that her chimney be swept once a year, however. She no longer had insurance.
Years ago Kaitāia's Paper Plus, now Marston Moor, underwent major refurbishment. The owners opened their doors before work was finished, so customers could buy their Lotto tickets. The photo published in this newspaper, featuring a queue of customers amid drop cloths, ladders and such, found its way to OSH, which identified nine specific grounds for prosecution under health and safety regulations.
It didn't prosecute, but it could have. As far as anyone knows none of the customers died or was injured.
Where have these rules come from? How is it that we have allowed an entire industry to grow around a need to protect us from ourselves? And how much are these rules costing you?
Last week someone claimed that 56 per cent of the cost of building a house in Auckland was generated by the need for compliance. No one would question the need for houses to be built to a safe standard, but 56 per cent in Auckland represents hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the Minister of Housing's answer is to create a super ministry. More bureaucrats. That'll fix the housing problem.
If the figure of 56 per cent is correct, the builder of one of Minister Phil Twyford's affordable $600,000 homes will be paying $336,000 to comply with heaven knows how many rules and regulations. If he could reduce the cost of that house from $600,000 to $264,000 he would be making a genuine contribution to what appears to be an intractable problem. But he won't. He's employing more bureaucrats.
Last week Far North property developer Wayne Brown pointed to four of what he says is a host of rules and regulations that not only make development difficult, but vastly more expensive than it needs to be. One of his examples was the Hazardous Activity Industries List, originally designed to protect people who might be tempted to build on sites that had once been used for timber treatment or petrol storage.
Not surprisingly, that had morphed to cover most rural land, especially land that might once have been an orchard, Mr Brown complaining that the trigger points for contamination were set "way too low." Given the recent methamphetamine revelations, who doubts that?
Who set the limits? Don't know. At what level of contamination is there any risk to human health? Don't know. How, as Mr Brown asks, can it be safe to eat fruit grown in an orchard but not safe to build a house there? Don't know.
He went on to describe the Fire Code as so complicated that only specialists in the field can understand it. What he did understand was that the fire-resistance rate for walls had been lifted from 60 minutes to 120 minutes. Why? Don't know. Mr Brown speculated however that most fire-related deaths seemed to be the result of "dumb stuff," like taking the batteries out of smoke alarms.
He not unreasonably wondered why anyone in a single-storey building would need two hours to evacuate, but that's the standard. And you are paying for it.
It is of little consolation that others might be worse off than us (see if you can find the book The Death of Commonsense in America), but we're doing our best to catch up.
A few years ago a passerby who helped a child get down from a tree on school grounds in England was reportedly charged with trespass because he had no legal right to be there. The teachers and other pupils, seeing the kid was stuck and potentially in danger of falling, had done what the guidelines told them to do — they retreated to their classrooms and watched from a safe distance.
Meanwhile Mr Brown blames the sad scenario in this country on "silly bureaucrats and lazy, ill-informed politicians who want to be seen to be doing something". Hard to disagree with that.
What doesn't make sense is that we lie down and take it. We part with our hard-earned money for no benefit whatsoever. We do as we are told, perhaps because we've been brainwashed into believing that danger lurks around every corner, or more likely because we fear prosecution.
It is time to declare that the emperor has no clothes, and maybe this meth scandal — and it is a scandal — will provide the catalyst for that.