Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Henry Armstrong: How the Ardern Government and Its Allies are Dumping on Us Oldies

The Ardern government’s recently-announced housing and punitive tax policies will have a significant impact on New Zealand’s seniors and are clearly ageist in their outcomes. 

Anyone over the age of 70 years in New Zealand today (especially if you are male and of European descent), can be forgiven for feeling that somehow, after a lifetime of struggle, commitment to, and hard work in the interests of our country, New Zealand, we have suddenly become “the enemy”!

Green Party MPs, almost to a person, condemn “old white men” as somehow being responsible for all of the ills of modern-day New Zealand society. Julie-Ann Genter’s infamous statement to a class of school children in Christchurch (aged around 10 years) that “old white men” needed to move aside from their domination of boards (she did not specify which boards-charities, SOEs, closely- held family companies, Stock Exchange listings), as some kind of cleansing process after which organisations would be refreshed and renewed.


Her colleague, a young Mexican gay chap, (who recently distinguished himself by trying to bring his gay partner into New Zealand claiming priority over other Covid 19 victims) is also on record as condemning the photographs of all the “old white men” lining the walls of Parliament, again as some sort of accusation that these historical figures caused all of today’s socio-economic ills.

Those of us old enough to remember, well recall the explanations of successive governments   that they were taxing us, via “Social Security “deductions from our pay packets, in order to ensure we would be “looked after” in our retirement years. Having deducted Social Security payments from our earnings, on top of income taxes as high as 67%, by the way, we were then exhorted to “save for our retirement”, with ominous statements that unless we did so, we could not expect, nor depend upon, governments, to do it for us. Nothing was ever heard, subsequently, about where this “Social Security” money ended up.

Many of us will remember those days of 67% tax on incomes, as well as paying up to 24% interest on borrowings, such as mortgages, for housing. It was common for young couples trying to afford to buy or build a house, to take on second, or in some cases, third mortgages at ever exponential rates of interest. It was also common for young couples attempting to raise finance for housing, to be summoned by their bank manager to an” interview” where one had to convince said manager that one was indeed worthy of a bank loan and would be in a position to meet the mortgage repayments. Humiliating!

Young couples starting families would gift each other packets of milk tokens - a valuable method of ensuring babies at least had supplementary diets. If one was lucky, the couple might qualify for a State Advances Corporation loan to start, usually, to build a new home. If all of this failed one might (stress the might) be fortunate enough to be offered a state house for rent - but the fortunate applicants were required to ensure the state house was kept in good condition and the grounds kept tidy, lawns mowed, vege gardens attended. After all, state houses were deliberately “pepper-potted” amongst privately built homes to emphasise the socialist desirability of equality in housing. And some of us grew up in “Railway” houses provided by NZ Railways, usually in remote areas, with tank water, outside dunny and coal range cooking.

Fast-forward some 50 years, with many of us in our seventies or eighties. Most political and social commentators keep insisting our age group, we boomers and war-babies “had it easy”.


Unless you were fortunate enough to inherit something from your parents, most of us scrimped and saved to give our children a home and  a good education, going without holidays, cars and other “luxury” goods, bearing in mind always to “save for your retirement”. Overseas trips? A bach? Boat? Beamer?  Impossible in those days for the vast majority of ordinary kiwis.

Well, that is what most of us seventies-something did. Built a family home, at great cost and sacrifice; kids grew up and moved out; Mum and Dad decide to “downsize”; sell the family home; buy a smaller house; and invest the remainder - you know, to “save for your retirement”.

Only, that was all a great load of codswallop.

Seeking advice on how to invest the proceeds of the family home sale to supplement one’s income to the much-vaunted Government Superannuation benefit (except that the GS is insufficient to cover even basic living costs) we were variously advised to invest in a varied “portfolio” - shares, term deposits, perhaps a rental property, to provide additional income? For a short while, all of these were options, until interest rates manipulated by government through the Reserve Bank, began to rocket down towards zero. This alone caused many of us oldies to revisit what we had left after downsizing. How do you hang on to that very modest nest egg they kept telling us would be needed for the “rainy day”?

Here we are in 2021. If fortunate enough to still be living in a debt-free home, we are made to feel guilty that many in our society cannot afford to do likewise. So, how best to utilise the proceeds from selling the family home? I know, let’s put it on term deposit at the bank - the one we had to almost beg a loan from all those years ago. At least the term deposit will return some interest, after tax and accounting fees? Really? Just 1% or less if you are lucky. I know, lets invest in a modest rental property. At least rental income, after tax, accounting fees, property management fees, repairs and maintenance and legal fees in many cases, there must be a return in that surely? Uh-uh. The Ardern government clearly detests landlords to the extent that new laws including tenant rights negate almost all the advantages of owning a rental property. But at least we would get the capital gain, eh? Not so. Extension of the Bright-Line capital gains tax, from 5 to ten years effectively squashes that advantage too. And that is after Ardern and Robertson campaigned on a policy NOT to introduce a Capital Gains Tax. The outright lies of successive governments continue to plague us oldies.

I know! Yes! Let’s do what the Reserve Bank Governor exhorts us to do - spend, spend, spend. The only problem with that scenario is that oldies are increasingly prone to ill-health and ultimately the need to seek medical interventions and possibly rest home care. Good though our health system is (it is NOT racist, but is it ageist?), it is stretched beyond limits for less-dire health care such as elective surgery, cataract operations, hip/joint replacement and so on. The alternative is to pay through the nose and have these procedures done privately. After all, most of us would be long gone by the time our health system was able to accommodate these lesser afflictions. You need a hell of a lot of money to afford private health care outcomes. So, spending one’s savings is not a prudent option.

Then there is the prospect of one of us or both needing rest home care. Rest home fees for individual patients needing full time care can exceed $1500 per week - that’s $78,000 per year per person. 

The government subsidy is not available to patients until their joint assets decrease to $236,000 - includes the family home and car - in2021? Get real!

So here we are in 2021, having, in my case, worked for our government for virtually all my life, facing a future which, if I become ill, will result in virtually all of my life-time earnings and assets  being dissipated. I am castigated for being an old, white man; hated if owning a rental property ( I do not); having savings (already taxed when earned) subject to tax and various other fees; owning a very modest house when others have difficulty getting onto the property ladder, which is SO unfair to them, eh?; being a burden on society by being paid government super plus a war pension; oh, and being of European descent, I am also guilty, apparently, of condemning our  Maori people to poverty and  ill- health because Europeans “colonised” New Zealand two hundred years ago. My ancestors arrived here long after this so-called colonisation, so I can hardly be blamed for that one, eh? And did not the treaty of Waitangi establish a new nation where Maori and others share equal rights? How does the Treaty morph suddenly into “colonisation” when 500 chiefs signed it with equal rights for all? Hmmmmm.

Here I am, staring the Grim Reaper in the face, being treated with loathing and contempt for being responsible for all of the inequities and inequalities in our society.

Why the hell did I bother being a good citizen, good parent, frugal saver, obedient employee, caring of others, law-abiding, community minded, when at the end of life’s journey, I am treated like a bloody pariah? I should not have even bothered.

Thank you, Jacinda, I really feel valued.

Henry Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.


Ahwen Boone said...

Agreed Henry. Particularly the "save for your retirement" bit. We were continually told that New Zealanders "do not save enough", but having done so, what do I do, now, to protect my savings? I may be "pale, male & stale" but that doesn't make me "wrong". I despair for the future of this country and am actively seeking to retire elsewhere. It further saddens me to hear a number of older people say that they are "glad" they do not have much life left to live and will, therefor, not live to see the destruction of traditional New Zealand values. We need, with others of like mind, to collectively condemn the current propensity to promote failed, socialist ideas and agenda and "boot out" the Green/Red faction, the Maori Sovereignty supporters and like-minded Labour Councillors/MPs at the next local and national elections.

Anonymous said...

On Croaking Cassandra someone calculated the number of Asian baby boomers and concluded that a lot of NZ born baby boomers had died.
The business investment scheme is a scam (as far as I can see) they invest in things Kiwis could do (Cafe, small tour business, restuarant), pay minimal tax and bring in four parents.
That may seem nasty to point out but China has naturalized fewer than 2000 migrants. The more we open ourselves up the more we are deemed racist.
Clearly (to me) globalisation breaks the social contract. In stead of blaming baby boomers changing demographic profiles should have been factored in at the year dot.
The other thing is the notion of the large house and down sizing. It doesn't work like that in most cases. A small house that isn't on a subdivided section (house parking lot) is likely to be very expensive (unless they mean - coffin)?

Mervyn said...

Agree Henry but take heart the observation of Thomas Sowell commenting on the present state of USA. As bad as you feel put upon it won't be a fraction as bad as the country the younger generation are creating for themselves. New Zealand to be renamed Aoteroa is destined to be a racially divided socialist shit hole and economic vassal state of Communist China. We baby boomers won't be here to endure it.

Unknown said...

My feelings exactly very well written article. It gets even worse as the kids and grandkids led by the nose by the leftards in the education hierarchy have not got a clue and just brush off the problems by saying the old man's venting again. I have another issue as I was partially paralyzed in a work accident the day I turned 65 the ACCwrote and said you are on your own basicly they still look after my medical needs but there is zero recognition of things like gardening getting firewood any outdoor physical stuff one is left to rot.

Unknown said...

“Equal Rights for all” – Yeah, Right !! Both National and Labour have been steadily pushing us towards two separate nations with increasing rights and powers for those claiming some maori ancestry in almost every aspect of our lives – extra maori-only infant care; schools and education aid in all aspects; housing; health; welfare; maori-only positions on government agencies and local government committees and boards; extensive absolute powers over the RMA; management rights over parks, rivers, lakes, coastlines plus ownership of foreshore and seabed; maori-only seats in Parliament; super-rich tribes registered as charities so that they pay no taxes, giving the businesses they operate massive advantage over ‘normal’ competitors – the list of statutory privilege is increasing all the time.
Within each of the above there are specifics that are downright undemocratic – for example democratically elected Auckland city councillors are not allowed to name a Proxy if or when they are unavailable to attend a council meeting for any reason. However, the nine non-elected Maori people on the Independent Maori Statutory Board - whose votes in the Council’s affairs and debates can determine policy - can have a proxy.
Now there is a Whenua Maori Amendment Rating Bill in Parliament that has just passed its third reading – it empowers local Councils the power to write off rates arrears for maori to correct “100 years of disadvantage” !!!!!
Welcome to the two separate countries of AOTEAROA and New Zealand.

Unknown said...

This is so, accurate! As a 70yr old I have experienced all of this and more! Is it time to bring back Guy Fawkes?

john white said...

Agreed, Henry!--Recently, Stuff published an "opinion piece 'suggesting that the pension should be a loan, like student loans, to be repaid out of the estate upon death. First call of course, along with outstanding taxes to the State.
sounds like death duties?
The scary thing?-this has all the hallmarks of a Govt 'feeler'put out there to test the waters.

Sumner Muzza said...

Well said...
And with a PM who grew up idolising Socialist dictators, we are all observing an inexorable Animal Farm like slide towards a living hell almost weekly

Robert Arthur said...

Brace yourselves.I suspect far worse is to come. An undisguised Capital Gains Tax has been ruled out by Jacinda. In any case unpopular to capture the family home, and involves a lot of non productive accounting effort. Many other countries have Estate or Death Duties with necessary accompanying Gift Tax. Wherever your Will directs your estate, arrange to give as much as practicable while you can without incurring penalty. It seems inevitable that Trusts with all their non productive accounting and legal work, will come back into fashion.

Kiwiken said...

Yes, well said. This government is trying to be like Robin Hood and steal from the rich and give to the poor, but that doesn't work as the rich know how to minimize their losses. Instead, the hard working middle class who have saved hard all their lives are being taxed to shit. And a fraction of this is freely given to the so called poor many of whom are actually way better off than we were. On top of that, Labour loves to spend, spend, spend. They have borrowed tens of billions. Whose going to pay that back? Not Labour or the Greens. And many new to NZ have jumped on the free ride and use our hospitals which are now over capacity, taken jobs from Kiwi's whose families have been here for generations, and can easily get the pension after about only 10 years. After paying premiums to Southern Cross Health Insurance for 20 years, now that I'm retired and may need it the most, my premiums have gone up as I'm a greater risk, just when I've finished work and can't afford that. Yet, new, younger patients can have many procedures done, yet only be paying smaller premiums for a short time. But worst of all, this government is promoting pollution. Not environmental but social and moral pollution. They are following the world, (sometimes leading) in the corruption of society which will lead to disaster. It's going from bad to worse, with kids being brainwashed into thinking they are the wrong gender. If that leads to a sex change, I bet it will cause more suicides when they mature and realise they have made a mistake and ruined their lives.

Unknown said...

Totally agree with the writer. One thing that gives me as an octenegeeion is that the people calling me BABYBOOMER themselves will become bABYVOOMERS.
Ah such injustice but I will enjoy it