Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Idiots Rule


Two brain-farts today, on entirely different subjects.
Brain-fart One
Connal Townsend of the Property Council is unhappy about the revised Christchurch Central City Plan.  And tax.
First the Central City Plan:
Mt Townsend is quoted as saying a lot of stuff, and most of it is so vague and meaningless, it's difficult to criticise.  The underlying threat is very clear, though.  If landowners don't get what they want, they will pack up and leave.  Here's an example of Mr Townsend's petulance (from Stuff):
"There's a break-even point. There were so many nice ideas thrown into the plan that it's an incentive for owners to walk, rather than to reinvest."
Townsend said that despite being revised, the plan's restrictions on buildings infringed "common law rights" for owners to replace what they had lost and would make reinvesting in the city too costly.
Restrictions on suburban development would also damage the city, he said.
Christchurch central is a sorry sight.  Right now one of the last things Christchurch needs is the insipidness and uncertainty of the likes of Mr Townsend.
The Central City Plan is, on the whole, a good document.  It was developed relatively rapidly, and in unusual circumstances, and its success or failure hinges on how it is implemented.  If the likes of Mr Townsend are incapable of working with it, then it is best they take their money elsewhere and leave the redevelopment of the city to people who actually have the vision and tenacity to do the job.
In terms of funding, the underlying issue seems to be that many of the properties were under-insured.  That's a failure of private enterprise, not a failure of local planning regulations.  I'd like to see Mr Townsend head back to the members of the Property Council and suggest they take responsibility for their actions, or in this case, inaction.
The last sentence in the quote above fascinates me, due mostly to its disconnection with reality and meaning.  The city has been damaged by reckless development since the 1950s, weak planning restrictions, and earthquakes.  Strengthening planning restrictions, which has been done to some degree, does quite the opposite of what Mr Townsend suggests, by requiring developers to demonstrate that their developments are on sound ground and are supported by resilient infrastructure.  And that's hardly unreasonable.
Then tax (also from Stuff):
The submission called for the Government to fix the "dreadful mistake" of removing tax depreciation on commercial property. It also said earthquake strengthening must be made tax-deductible.
"There's no incentive now for bringing buildings up to earthquake standards, and that affects all our cities, not just Christchurch," Townsend said.
...the "dreadful mistake" of removing tax depreciation... is another way of saying that the Property Council is upset it lost an avenue for a taxpayer-funded subsidy.  How is it that Atlas can't keep his fingers out of my wallet?
And the callousness of the last quote almost floored me.  Let me make it simple – the first reason, the main incentive, to bring buildings up to earthquake standards is to protect their inhabitants from death and injury.  That's what it's all about.
The Building Code is all about safety, first and foremost.  Then it is about functionality.  There's a quote from one of Mr Townsend's colleagues about the height of toilet roll holders, I won't bother including it because it is so insulting.  It's mean to trivialise the issue.  The truth is that buildings need to be functional to accommodate everyone.  The height of toilet roll holders is important to people who rely on wheelchairs, for example.  Saying that it is unimportant is saying that these people are unimportant.  And that's rubbish.
Brain-fart Two
Bob McCoskrie of FFNZ released the findings of a report that concludes children should not be put into day care.  Ignoring that the report was written by an author known for cherry-picking, and was commissioned by a group with strong vested interests (hence the inevitability of the conclusions)...
The report is terribly flawed:
  • The author mistakes correlation for causation.  It's a common mistake, if you have no idea what you are doing.  And it's OK to do it, if you don't expect to be taken seriously.  So the report found "...increasing levels of cortisol...in children in day care"  and extrapolated from there.  That's a fairly big extrapolation, with no reference to third (and most likely fourth, fifth, sixth etc.) factors.
  • How is it that the mothers get the blame for the child being in day care?  Last time I checked, it takes two people to make a child, and I'm still to be convinced men are, somehow, less responsible for caring for their offspring than women.  [For the sake of brevity ignore the subtleties of children born to same-sex relationships]
  • I'd like to live in a society where families have the choice of whether to put their children into day care.  Idealistic?  Yeah.  I'd settle for a government that was moving in that direction, but we don't even have one of those.

I'll finish up with a quote from Bob McCoskrie himself:
"I think if you looked at the report you would find it's very well balanced, he's been attacked simply because he's daring to go where no one else has tried"
No Bob, he was attacked because he was talking bollocks, and people who noticed and cared used that quaint old "freedom of speech" idea to counter his and your bullshit.  It's all part of that radical concept of a "free society" and runs completely contrary to your knuckle-dragging "get back to the kitchen, woman" fantasy world.

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