Ralston slates Clark for the illusion of action

Bill Ralston: Words are louder than actions – 17 Feb 2008 – Politics: New Zealand Political News, Analysis and Comment including 2008 election coverage – NZ Herald

Bill Ralston writes about Clark’s insincere policy initiatives of the past week;

“The issue of tagging hit the headlines and Helen Clark immediately announced the Government would ban the sale of spray paint to under 18-year-olds and impose harsher penalties for graffiti.

In case it has escaped anyone’s attention, under 18-year-olds are banned from buying liquor and cigarettes but they seem to be able to access these forbidden fruits with ease, and there is no reason to expect they will have any more difficulty laying hands on spray cans once the ban comes into force.

Harsher penalties are unlikely to have much effect, either. There are some heavy penalties for using drugs but some people keep happily getting stoned anyway.”

Yep, she missed the boat on that one. Tagging will continue in spite of the government. (no it isn’t an error, I used in spite on purpose). What about the much vaunted “Affordable Housing” policy that isn’t;

“National’s Phil Heatley was quick to point out that the Government’s proposed affordable homes were not so easily afforded by the needy.

The average household income in New Zealand is $68,000 a year but the average couple would need to earn $70,000 to service a mortgage on the “affordable” home. If there is only one breadwinner in the household and he or she earns the necessary $70,000 then, of course, the Government declares that person to be rich and taxes the last desperately needed $10,000 of their earnings at the top tax rate of 39 cents in the dollar.

The Government will claim that is why it proposes a shared equity scheme, whereby a state funding body will effectively give struggling first-home buyers a second mortgage, interest free, to be repaid when they eventually sell the house. If that second mortgage is 30 per cent of the value of the home then the Government gets back its initial investment and 30 per cent of the value of the home when it is sold.

The Government appears to have fallen into the same trap many of us have already. It is assuming it will, over time, get a capital gain on property. Some real estate observers are predicting a fall in house prices of 20 per cent to 30 per cent. What happens if the poor first-home buyer ends up in a negative equity situation? Forced by debt to sell their home at a dramatically depressed price the drowning homeowner has to dig deeper to find the full amount of the second mortgage, plunging still further into debt.”

Precisely Mr Ralston. Labour’s Affordable Housing policy is a dog. I hope they defend it long and hard until it is too late to drop the stupid thing.