After a Labour party meeting earlier this year, I paused outside to roll a ciggie. I got talking with an engaging Old One from the Silent Generation. She sounded like she had been a Labour member from Mickey Savage's time on. The lady had outlived Norm Kirk's Camelot, Rogernomics' Quantum Leap, and will still be signed on long after Helen Clark's Office is over.
She said, "Whatever happened to the really important things? I look at the Kelburn Viaduct or the Karori Tunnel, or the Mt Victoria Tunnel. All their commission dates are a lifetime ago. What public works are being done today, to leave something as good as our forebears gave us?"
I really didn't have an answer to give her. Moa Point seemed not quite right and the Bypass, for all its engineering, seemed too small. I knew what she meant, and extending a motorway 300 metres wasn't it. There was nothing new. No link road from Karori to Owhiro Bay, not even a Johnsonville route fit for anyone but Sunday Drivers and hoons. Transmission Gully was still not happening then (Is it now?). No extension of rail into the heart of the city.
On a bigger scale, there was no Main Trunk Line to gloat about. No bridge between the Heartland and the Mainland. Auckland still had no rail to the North Shore, or even a bridge more worthy than the 1950's clusterfuck it uses now. While the Kaikoura Roulette is finally getting fixed, we still haven't got a decent drive linking Wellington to the Wairarapa after we turned down the Yanks' tunnel offer back around WWII. The Rimutakas are a beaut to tramp on, but a cunt to drive over. Same same with Arthur's Pass, without the tramping.
So the only answer I could give this Old One was, "We pay our way." And that's us all over. It is writ big with Michael Cullen's new GAAP and Cullen Fund. We will pay and pay and pay. We will have student debt, personal debt, hire purchases, mortgages, car finance. We pay for insurance just in case any of the things we are paying for Get Cartered. Plus GST.
Little wonder then that Labour's student loan interest write-off was a vote-winner. In one fell swoop a Gordian knot is cut. The Old Ones oblige, because they know what's happening. Gen X and Y and probably Z are getting screwed. We will be picking up the tab for the Baby Boomers for a while yet.
The Boomers have had it sweet. Raised by parents who knew the value of a dollar, becoming self-made people before the laws got too complicated, or university graduates when education was still free. There is no class war in NZ. It is generational. One day, the Boomers will pay.
And this is how. Y'know that Cullen Fund, that one that all the PAYE-earners are paying for on top of the seven percent for current Super? The Super Fund throws cash into such things of negligible public good for NZ as $19 million dollars in Verizon or $44 million in Macquarie Infrastructure Group, which is "the world’s largest listed infrastructure fund, with assets in Australia, the UK, Germany and Portugal."
Instead, we should put our money where our mouth is, along with the rest of us. Just like Muldoon did in 1975, it's only a matter of time before someone cracks that piggy bank. Better now, for the right reasons. Just make sure that you gamble and win.