Armageddon Insurance [New Zealand politics]
I wasn’t intending to write another politics-orientated post for some time. It is something about which I have strong views, but I am wary of posting about it too much – it is too divisive in my experience, and can overwhelm what is primarily a blog about fantasy books. Most of you would be bored to death with a rant about New Zealand politics anyway.
But today I couldn’t help myself. I ran across a lengthy article about apocalypse preparations by wealthy Americans:
Most interesting to me is the last third or so: New Zealand is apparently a go-to refuge for foreign investors worried about Armageddon. This isn’t about ordinary people moving here for personal reasons like education or employment, but rather about the panicky super-wealthy using us as a Survival Bunker.
This is problematic.
Nineteenth century settlers to New Zealand often came here to escape a life of estates and absentee landlords – it is why our 1890-1912 Liberal Government made a point of forcibly breaking-up large landholdings (you were dealing with cabinet ministers who had grown up as poor crofters in Scotland, and regarded concentration of land ownership as the root of all evil). What we are seeing here is precisely the problem that our ancestors sought to escape: whole swathes of the country being owned by a handful of rich people, who have no interest in contributing anything to wider society. Private golf courses and hellipads(!) strike at the heart of New Zealand’s egalitarian self-image.
More immediately, this simply exacerbates an existing property bubble. The average house price in Auckland is now over $1 million NZ – and while Auckland is ground zero for the bubble, places like Wellington are not far behind. Having super-wealthy foreigners buying us up for their Survival Plan only makes things worse for actual locals who just want to own their own home. There are plenty of Aucklanders already living out of cars because they can no longer afford to even rent, and given the state of the job market in provincial New Zealand, we aren’t too far off a situation where many New Zealanders are faced with a choice – they can have a roof over their head, or a job, but not both.