As a country and a people we are descending further and further into chaos.

And the chaos is not just all around us; it has penetrated the minds of many, in whom logic and reason have given way to emotion.

The country is broke (in more ways that one), living on borrowings of something like a quarter of a billion dollars a week and, as that most perceptive of commentators, Paul Holmes, so graphically described in his Herald on Sunday column last weekend, the economy is "tanking" and "heading south very deeply and sharply".

And, he wrote, "neither the politicians nor their officials have an idea in hell about what to do". I reckon some of them don't even understand what is happening.

If a senior government minister such as Gerry Brownlee can tell Parliament that the income gap between us and the Aussies has narrowed since his Government came to power, when the figures show that it has widened by something like $50 a week, you have to wonder, don't you?

Unemployment figures have grown from 6 per cent to 6.8 per cent since the end of March, representing 19,000 more men and women who are out of work, most of them looking for jobs that don't exist.

The welfare system has this week been described as outdated, financially unsustainable and lacking incentives to get beneficiaries back into the workforce.

So, what does the Government do? It passes legislation, due to come into force next week, under which recipients of the domestic purposes benefit will lose half of it if they twice refuse work within a month of their youngest child turning 6.

If this isn't a prime example of chaotic thinking, I don't know what is.

There isn't any work, particularly work which can be fitted around the demands of child-rearing.

On top of that, we were informed this week that one in four children in this nation of ours was growing up in a one-parent home.

Meanwhile, 377,000 New Zealanders are receiving benefits and 170,000 of them have been doing so for five or more of the past 10 years.

The health system is broke, too, and in its usual disarray. So while suggestions are made that state healthcare should be rationed by sorting who gets treated and who doesn't, junior doctors acting as locums in Auckland hospitals are coining $300 an hour or $7200 for a pair of 12-hour weekend shifts.

Our booze problems are spiralling out of control, and have been for years, yet the Government - in spite of widespread public demand - refuses even to lower the drink-driving limit from 0.8 to 0.5 because it wants to do more "research".

It won't even look at things such as raising the legal purchasing age, increasing the excise tax and limiting alcohol advertising to point of sale, all of which have, we are told, been highly successful in reducing consumption of tobacco.

The education system remains in turmoil and tens of thousands of our children still leave secondary schools almost illiterate.

National standards are all very well, but any fool should be able to see that unless the whole philosophy of education changes, tens of thousands of kids will continue to be unable to communicate adequately in oral or written words.

Nearly 100,000 pupils have been stood down or suspended from schools for drug use, verbal and physical assaults since 2007, according to a report at the weekend, mainly for continual disobedience, physical assaults on other students and verbally abusing teachers.

Education Ministry figures reveal that in 2007, 1017 students were stood down and 942 suspended for drugs use and substance abuse. By last year, this had jumped to 1420 being stood down and 1074 suspended.

That trend won't stop. The other day, a 12-year-old took a kilogram of cannabis, worth $7000, to sell to his mates at a Manurewa intermediate school. The child, dobbed in by other children, had been given the drugs by a family member to sell at school.

But what bothers me the most about all this chaos is that I've been hearing and reading similar things for at least 30 years, if not more.

And I've been reading and hearing the politicians utter the same sort of platitudes and promises to fix the problems and passing the same sort of ineffective band-aid legislation to deal with them, for the same amount of time.

And all that has happened is that the chaos has got worse - because no set of governing politicians has ever had the guts to legislate unpopular but really effective solutions. The latest lot's just the same: all their imagination goes into trying to please everybody and to get re-elected.

The most telling headline in this newspaper this week said this: "Changing social norms could take generations." That is undoubtedly true and in the meantime we will continue to reap what we have sown.