Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's the Politicians Who are Overpaid

Phil Goff (remember him - he's the leader of the NZ Labour Party) wants to restrict senior public servants' salaries to the same level as the Prime Minister. Why for pity's sake? What's so special about the PM's salary and why should he be the highest paid public servant?

Actually, I think it's the politicians who are overpaid. I like the old system that prevailed until Victorian times in England where MPs didn't get paid at all. This meant that only people of means would stand for Parliament - and that usually meant people who had been successful at some other vocation before entering politics. The problem with our current crop of politicians it that many of them, especially in the previous Labour-Greens Government, have never had to earn a living doing something productive in their whole lives. That means they have no idea how most people go about earning their living or how wealth is created. They think that money grows on trees and that they have a God-given right to spend it profligately on whatever they see fit.

Political involvement should be truly a public service and if it was I think we would have a much better experienced and qualified group of MPs in Parliament. Paying them zilch, or at least a very small stipend, would rid us of the politicians who are only there because it pays more than the dole.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Zealanders and manners

Today, at the risk of appearing to be a bit fuddy duddy, I'm going to vent my spleen on a particularly annoying trait of my fellow countrymen - their appalling lack of manners.

New Zealand men in particular appear completely incapable of showing any level of common courtesy. I belong to a city gym. Like most city gyms it gets pretty crowded in the changing rooms at peak hours. A couple of years ago I began to notice that other men in the changing room were incapable of saying the simple words "excuse me" when they needed to get past you to get into their locker. Often they will simply push past without saying anything. Sometimes they will grunt, expecting you to interpret that as "I need to get past you and into my locker." If they say anything at all, is usually "sorry". I'm not sure what they are apologising for -- perhaps they are saying sorry on behalf of the gym owners or the architects or whoever else was responsible for the cramped design of the changing rooms. But they never, ever, say "excuse me". New Zealand men, and many New Zealand woman, appear not to have the words "excuse me" in their vocabulary.

The same behaviour happens on city footpaths, in restaurants and cafes, at sports events and at any other location where large numbers of New Zealanders congregate.

I have heard people say that the French are rude. However, on my last trip to Paris I noticed that whenever French people are in a crowded place, you always hear a continual chorus of "excusez-moi" as they move past. I began noticing the lack of similar courtesy from New Zealanders upon my return home.

We are known as friendly people but I have also heard foreigners describe New Zealanders as 'standoffish'. Perhaps that is a polite way for foreigners to say we are rude.

I do not know what it is that makes New Zealanders so resistant to saying "excuse me". It may be that New Zealand men regard the expression as effete and unmasculine, and perhaps New Zealand women think they are exempt from displaying courtesy because they are women.

It is time New Zealanders adopted the manners the rest of the world takes for granted. Our lack of common courtesy is not an attractive trait.