If enough people say it, it must be true

For years we have been hearing the phrase “time poor” and the refrain about how busy we are, and how stressed for time we are. And everyone buys into it. But the reality is that there are the same number of hours in a day that there have always been. And there are the same number of days in a year there have always been. And for many people improvements in diet, and changes to lifestyle and the quality of medical care have meant an extension to their lives.

So we don’t in fact have less time. It may seem to be that way because of how we choose to use that time. If we choose to use that time interacting with Facebook, posting to Instagram, or reading People magazine, then obviously we don’t have that time for other pursuits or meaningful activities.

So we are not “time poor”. We just make poor choices of what to do with our time.

Recently the NZ Herald quoted Mayor Phil Goff regarding “one of the most important issues Council faces”.

Was Mayor Goff talking about the traffic congestion that costs residents and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity every year because they are sitting in traffic?

Or was he talking about infrastructure for stormwater and sewage that is old, crumbling and can’t cope? Or perhaps he was talking about a bloated council bureaucracy that is overpaid and very often incompetent?

The correct answer: None of the above. Mayor Goff’s  “one of the most important issues Council faces” was with regard to preservation of kauri trees in regional parks.

We believe it is important to preserve our natural environment. And personally we probably see and appreciate and treasure that environment up close as much if not more than most.

But to describe it as “one of the most important issues”. Seriously Mayor Goff?  Perhaps it is time to get out of the limousine and understand what really is important before too many think that because you said it, it must be true.

We would argue that child poverty is a blight on our society. For the moment we can ignore that the term “child poverty” is really a statistical analysis. We all know what underfed, ill-nurtured and nutritionally deficient children are. And we know the impact of over-crowding in damp and cold houses.

We also agree with the management maxim that “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it”. So the Child Poverty Reduction Bill which will require governments to set three and 10-year targets on child poverty reduction, and provide updates in each Budget, is a start to measuring the problem. But measuring the problem is not the same as doing something about it, and there is no mention from our new government as to what actions will be taken to attack the causes of the problem. We have learned from our time in business that being aware of a problem, and being able to measure the problem, is only the very start to rectifying it. You also need a plan. And the Child Poverty Reduction Bill is, despite it’s grandiose title, not a plan.

There is a gulf in our society. Some people call it the gap between the “haves, and the “have-nots”. Others point to the difference between beneficiaries and taxpayers, or homeowners and home-renters. But there is another gulf that is probably more relevant and likely to have greater impact on the future direction of our society – and that is the split between those with a sense of entitlement, and those who believe that their destiny is in their own hands. When that culture of entitlement exists, it’s very difficult to turn that around. There are now too many multi-generational families who know nothing but entitlement. They have been told enough times that they are entitled to free lunches and more – so it must be true. Perhaps it is time that we stopped being so politically correct and acknowledge that welfare should be a hand up – not a hand out. That it should be a safety net for those who cannot take care of themselves – not a crutch for those who won’t. Thirty seven years in a state house in Remuera by the same tenant (as was recently reported in the NZ Herald) is the type of evidence that tells us that not enough is being done to reverse the trend towards welfare for life. Because if we don’t, will it be sustainable?