Hunch: New Zealand is Over regulated without sufficient benefit to show for it

This is more of a hunch, feeling and unsubstantiated position at this stage and this post will be gradually updated as more thoughts on this issue come to light.

I feel New Zealand is increasingly and excessively over regulated in many areas of our lives without much in the way of tangible results towards fairness or justice to show for it. In fact, I believe the amount of regulation, box checking and other bureaucratic meandering is actually crippling New Zealand as a whole as well as adding undue stress to people’s lives and is actualy counter productive to the overall quality of life in more general terms.

In a sort of absurd way. We have Laws that are made, but then not enforced. People who are more honest will say make the effort to comply, while those less honest won’t and use that for gaining an unfair advantage of others. Another aspect is when those more honest find that the less honest are engaging in something clearly illegal, the enforcing agent doesn’t act because they don’t have the resources to do so.

 

Hunch: New Zealand is Over regulated without sufficient benefit to show for it

Hunch: Is TikTok dying out?

(This is a stub post that details more as of yet to be substantiated hunch or feeling as it were}

I wonder if TikTok is now dying or otherwise declining in popularity? Noticed that many creators are no longer posting. The ones that are still posting are increasingly repeating obscure content which is not too much of interest to me personally.

Have noticed many Creators have made TikToks complaining about their TikTok Live being killed mid sessions after being incorrectly flagged for community violations by some wayward AI with no solid way to appeal.

YouTube Shorts and Facebook Reels maybe taking some of TikTok’s traffic away.

Hunch: Is TikTok dying out?

Opinion: Google Reviews should be shutdown

Google should completely shut down their Google Review platform. Why? Because Google have a completely useless and inadequate way of assessing and vetting the Authenticity of any given review submitted to their platform.

For Google to keep their review platform running in the state as it is only provides a disservice to the public (and to the businesses whom have no way of opting out) and wouldn’t be surprised Google as a Review platform could be found in direct violation of consumer protection laws in many jurisdictions if any consumer protection agency decides to investigate.

I have caught numerous businesses posting or buying Fake 5 star reviews. Similarly with Competing businesses buying 1 star negative reviews to throw shade on their competition. Any business I have caught out often turns around and say that “our staff and associates are customers as well!” in a frankly futile attempt to justify running reviews under false pretenses.

Google in their latest round of shitfuckery have unleashed some AI / Machine learning algorithm which is completely off the mark as to kill off legitimate reviews as well (by way of shadowbanning or hiding reviews) with no way to otherwise appeal or upload evidence (by way of invoices, receipts, communication or otherwise) to support the authenticity of a given consumer experience.

Same deal with reporting fake reviews. There’s no way to upload evidence of such and you are left to simply “flag” a review with no other action able to be taken which is completely and utterly useless.

Frankly, without any such way of uploading documentation or other evidence to support any of the above, Google attempts to fix their fake review problem on Google Reviews is completely and utterly foolish and futile as well as an adverse and shameful display of incompetence for a tech company.

Opinion: Google Reviews should be shutdown

The message from the Powers to be is Clear: Invest in housing

Becoming a Landlord reinforced my long held views of real estate & the housing market and it’s wider impact on New Zealand society. In fact, it’s made me more bewildered at Long running Government (both past and present) inaction surrounding this area to tackle housing affordability and supply. I have long held the personal view that Houses were for people to live in, there were in my view never meant to be instruments of rampant speculation nor as heavily commoditized as they are today.

Apart for exceptional circumstances and from a purely selfish financial perspective, I struggle to understand why I should invest in productive enterprise over housing in New Zealand. It appears if the Business environment is good, then the housing market is good and as an ordinary joe public investor, you can also leverage / borrow against housing to amplify the impact of any capital growth (Yes. I acknowledge it’s a double edge sword and house prices can go the other way… sometimes)

This came to light upon reading that Businesses are crying out for the immigration floodgates to re-open and come increased immigration comes increased housing demand which in turn supports house prices. In addition, with the type of immigration they are after, there appears to be a depressive effect on wages as well.

I can’t see any change to the status quo (of housing been seen as a favourable investment) happening any time soon. Unless there is apetite for widespread change there isn’t going to be any if much political will to change this. There have been people who have advocated doing something and even running protests, but appears every such attempt has fizzled out.

Unfortunately, it means for the coming years, that Real Estate investing environment will continue to be favourable and perhaps it’s only when Inequality becomes crippling, we enter into another period of neo-serfdom, that the steady “Bread and circuses” diet of commercialized entertainment, professional sports and public spectacles are no longer enough to the placate the masses, and the populous have nothing to lose by revolting, then may be, just may be at that point we will see change.

The message from the Powers to be is Clear: Invest in housing

Migrated from Google Keep to Joplin for note keeping

Have migrated from Google Keep to Joplin.

Screenshot from Joplin’s Linux client.

Only draw back I can see is there is no Web based UI to the thing. Have to use the native platform specific Joplin apps.

Installed Joplin client on Ubuntu 22.04 using this command line.

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/laurent22/joplin/dev/Joplin_install_and_update.sh | bash

However, found that Joplin (after double clicking it’s short cut icon) refused to launch. So had to run these commands to lay down something called libfuse2

sudo add-apt-repository universe
sudo apt install libfuse2

…and then tried again, it launched after quite a few seconds.

Set up the path to my Joplin directory on my NextCloud installation.

https://[YOUR_SNAP_NEXTCLOUD_SERVER]/remote.php/webdav/Joplin
Migrated from Google Keep to Joplin for note keeping

New Zealand cost of living crisis, Standard of living and economic outlook

This is more of a generalized hunch, but get the feeling the cost of living in New Zealand compared with other countries is becoming more pronounced. Many things can be sourced overseas for cheaper even accounting for GST and Shipping.

There’s been things happen recently that perhaps ideally should not have happened including to our infrastructure. Things like lengthy and large scale rail shutdowns in Auckland. Pot-holed roads that keep needing to be redone and new highways “Failing” shortly after being commissioned among several other observations.

Granted it’s not all bad and dare I say it, most things are still working well including much of our power generation and distribution also our internet access in urban centres is among the best in the world. That said it definitely feels like we’re slipping slowly backwards in other areas when compared to other developed nations.

The Housing affordability crisis is an irredeemable stain on the Government (both present and past). The Government deserves all the scorn and admonishment for their failure to tangibly act on this. I say this as admittedly a landlord myself driven to enter the “market” a few years ago prior to the Canterbury property boom by the relentless policies that continually favours property investment over honest productive work (which appears to be no longer given as much value in this country). Furthermore, my disappointment only increases as the sitting Labour party doubles down on the spin rather than coming cleaning and admitting there were aspects they could have done better and then ideally go on to pledge to do better given the enormous societal effects this situation has, combined with spiraling inequality.

Noticed a general decrease in civility around the place. The Gangs are often getting a free pass, while the ordinary citizen is increasingly pinged over an increasing array of minor infringements. Driving anywhere these days, it’s not uncommon to witness road-rage between other road users. Couples are increasingly at each other throats in public and people when you greet them are less likely to say Hello back. There overall feels like an increase of civic apathy and decline of civic pride while people increasingly put their heads into ground (towards mindless consumption of entertainment among other diversions) as opposed to taking an interest in civic engagement.

Current forecast is the present inflationary environment is far from over, Food prices I’m picking will continue to increase as retailers continue to blame supply chain issues and further pick that New Zealand will likely suffer more from any coming recession than other developed nations as a result. We will probably enter another period of a brain drain to Australia (if it isn’t well underway already) and elsewhere to other countries. I regard myself as fairly patriotic, but it would be a lie to pretend things in New Zealand are anywhere near perfect and could not be better than they currently are.

My current investment intentions are to focus back towards Australia and beyond, however my outlook is certainly not fixed and my views are most certainly subjected to change.

New Zealand cost of living crisis, Standard of living and economic outlook

Auckland Rail Bus Replacements + Rail Shutdowns

Decided to have a look to see if I could take Public Transport to Papakura from Meadowbank and was instead met with this first world horror show. 1 Hour and 44 Minute Journey. Same Journey could be done in 30 minutes in a car. That’s not accounting for the fact that I ran the query shortly after 1:30 p.m. and the AT Journey planner was suggesting I will probably get there around 4:02 p.m. Almost 2 and a half hours later.

Screen grab from my Android Tablet showing the AT Journey planner suggesting I will likely arrive 2 and half hours after running the query for getting from Meadowbank to Papakura

Admittedly, while I am only but a single ordinary ratepayer, I’m tired of hearing the constant excuses for poor results and the Auckland Rail shutdowns seem to be the latest in a line of them. They can always state such and such is required because of this, because of that, but frankly for a first world country in terms of the end result and delivery of, to have our train system out for so long is frankly ridiculous (not to mention embarrassing). Our trains are a critical part of a functioning Public Transport system and this situation I feel is nothing short of untenable for a city such as Auckland. I’m surprised the likes of Public Transport User’s Association (PTUA) and Greater Auckland aren’t more vocal and angry than they are about the current round of Auckland Rail Shutdowns. If I were either of those organization, I’d be on the war path and constantly at both AT and Kiwi Rail urging them to please go back to the drawing board.

Auckland Rail Bus Replacements + Rail Shutdowns

Canterbury CCC Two tone Harlequin stubbies rugby shorts – Quality not what it was

I’m guessing this is a form of shrinkflation. I have noticed the quality of the old Kiwi staple, the Canterbury (CCC) Two tone (two colour) Harlequin rugby stubbies are nolonger what they were with them being made of comparatively thinner cotton material. I seem to either rip or wear right through at least 2-3 pairs of them every year. They’re no longer durable nor hardy anymore. Ordered a few more during the boxing day specials, but feel the cotton they’re using now is definitely a lot less durable versus the thicker more ruggered cotton drill material they used to be made of.

I’m thinking it may be time to graudally let that brand go. The quality probably figures as the Harlequin shorts have been at the same RRP $40 NZD mark for years, even with the recent bout of inflation that has taken hold.

Canterbury two colour harlequin shorts – Worn and ripped

Speaking of which as a side note / different track, same appears to go for a lot of bush, farming, rural, outdoor and hunting apparel these days. Remembered I previously had issues with gear from more respected and renowned outdoor brands falling to bits (both stitching and the material itself) for a period – That said, hopefully some of those brands have since improved the quality of their clothing with the noticeable price jumps recently but will see once I test my more recent “Fieldays” purchases out.

Canterbury CCC Two tone Harlequin stubbies rugby shorts – Quality not what it was

Auckland Speed Limit Reductions – All stick but no carrot

TL;DR: Speeds limits are being reduced across the board. Driving is increasingly stressful as others will object to you following the speed limit. There are implications if you do receive an infringement. Driving is technically a privillege but alternative transport options for getting around Auckland remain disappointingly poor and impractical for many situations.

Noticed that Speed limits on some streets around the CBD have been further reduced. Now Wellington Street in Freemans Bay is down to a mere 30 km/h.

Entrance to Wellington St, Freemans Bay, Auckland (CBD City side)

I can say that no cars whatsoever were doing 30 or even 40 km/h. In fact I had to pull over to allow a car to pass because they were right on my bumper while doing an already rule breaking 40km/h down Wellington Street. Walking back up Wellington street, I had observed basically every car were clearly ignoring the 30 km/h speed limit.

I’ve come to terms it’s only a matter of time that I’m going to end up with my first ever traffic infringement at this rate (basically not a matter of if, but when). Why? Because the agencies (including NZTA and Auckland Transport) by way of their “Vision zero” programme are dropping speed limits across the board and not just around the CBD. They’re also pledging to deploy more enforcement cameras everywhere and dropping enforcement tolerances and it only takes a momentarily lapse in judgement (e.g accelerating a touch too much in order to move safely into traffic or change lanes while looking over my shoulder to check a blind spot) right at an inopportune time and I will be done for.

The issue as well with infringements is that even if it’s only $30 low level speeding fine without demerits from a speed camera, apparently this still goes on your record somewhere for 5 years and apparently in many cases, you are supposed to declare this to insurance and needs to be declared in other areas as well (applying for a fire arms license, etc) so pays to avoid getting them where practical.

While I’ve continue for decades to express a strong desire to see alternative, more environmentally friendly and safer travel options opened up particularly in car dependent areas such as East Tamaki Industrial, the anti-car and climate activists have been exerting an increasing influence on Government policy and various government to make driving purposely more difficult and attempting to strong arm the motoring public out of their cars before we even have available working and viable alternative transport options that are able to realisitically cater to people’s day to day and household transportation needs in this city.

With the likes of Auckland Transport playing hard ball over Bus lane infringements and being inflexible even to those who have an otherwise squeaky clean driving record, the state will lose the goodwill of the public. Day to day life is already stressful for families as it is and the state to start ramping up the enforcement, widening the net, and pinging people over an increasing array of infractions while being out to disrupt people’s livelihoods is only going to accelerate the erosion of public goodwill and respect particularly if we continue to find excuses not to run the trains.

While I see we are building seperated cycle ways slowly (which admittedly, I’m generally infavour of should they go where people need to go and can be implemented in a cost effective fashion), however until we begin to see viable transport options able to meet Aucklanders’ day to day transportation needs emerge, I will as an individual ratepayer be vigorously and assertively pushing back at attempts by the more ardent climate activists who unrealistically demand we stop driving our cars immediately.

Auckland Speed Limit Reductions – All stick but no carrot

Stream of conciousness Week 1st January 2023

Stream of consciousness and other personal thoughts garnered throughout the week and which will be added to as the week rolls on. These thoughts are unrefined, unquantified, unverified, and raw. Any of these may be either be edited, deleted or otherwise spawn out into its own separate post particularly if new information comes to light…

  • Happy New Year. Skycity Fireworks were OK and I thank them for continuing to put these on, though I feel they fell short of being “bigger and better than ever” as per mentioned in the RNZ article
  • Nice walk up to sentinel rock out near Katikati. Takes around 3 and half hours return including scrambling up to the rock itself. Had some excellent conversations with other hikers similar walking up and down with me.
  • I don’t know if this is even a good thing to admit. For a long while, had considered my political views as leaning centre-left. I can’t say with an honest face that this is true any more. Reviewing where I stand, I’m probably more realistically now Centre-right to Moderate right.

  • Access to Universal healthcare is paramount. It looks like we’re still managing to maintain some level of this which is heartening, but acknowlege it’s not without it’s problems and we need to keep an eye on it and fight tooth and nail to ensure we retain this.
  • If the Government wants to encourage public transport use, then the half price fare subsidy (as an integral part of a larger suite of Public Transport improvements) will need to continue for the foreseeable future. The old casual fares prior to COVID-19 pandemic even with using the Public transport fare cards were not a financially compelling enough reason to woo people onto Public Transport.
  • All things considered. The fact that House prices have risen faster than one can earn from their wages is an irredeemable stain on the system. It’s come to the point where I remain angry and disappointed at the Governments’ (Both Past and current) for their non delivery. I say this as admittedly a Landlord myself (who further admittedly has profitted on paper from it), that what has now transpired is socially distablizing and disgusting. The value of working has been eroded and people rightly feel disenfranchised.
  • Felt the Te Aroha earthquake 5:40 am on 4th Jan 2023. It was almost imperceptible here in Auckland, but did noticed by bed seem to be wobbling a bit more than say what would be caused by my heart beating alone..

Older Stream of Consciousness thoughts can be found here.

Stream of conciousness Week 1st January 2023