New Zealand was founded on the idea of being a land of opportunity, where enough hard work would see a person rewarded with a standard of life unattainable in Britain. Part of this involved owning your own small house – referred to as “the quarter-acre dream” – but that dream is dead. We may now have to face up to an awful question: is it time for New Zealand to build commieblocks?
The opportunity inherent in New Zealand was mostly about getting away from the horrific overcrowding of England. At the opening of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, millions of workers were forced off the land and into the cities for the sake of supplying manpower to the factories. This new way of life proved hellish for a number of reasons, in particular the disease and pollution that came with the overcrowding, but also because of the unnatural life away from Nature.
This life was miserable enough that many of these millions chose to abandon Britain entirely for an uncertain life in the colonies. So badly did it suck to live in overpopulated filth, these people were willing to trade it all for an uncertain life as a settler on a large island – full of cannibals – on the other side of the planet.
In Europe, where the population density is many times higher than it is in New Zealand, and where workers will protest before they accept living in a car, a solution to the sudden need to house these masses arrived in the form of ‘commieblocks’. The name refers to the mountainous, blocky, concrete-and-steel structures that were a favourite of post-war Communist nations making good on their promises to house the masses.
These enormous buildings were able to contain hundreds or even thousands of apartments in the same space that would have been occupied by a few dozen villas. This meant that the price of the underlying land could be divided up among a multitude of people, minimising the cost of housing. It’s essentially battery farming for humans, and it has the psychological effect on people that battery farming could be expected to have, but it’s unavoidable once the population density increases past a certain point.
New Zealand managed to avoid this nightmare scenario by keeping the population density low. A low population density means that every person can have a certain minimum amount of space to themselves, and so there is no need to wallow in each other’s shit and piss like the populations of Europe, India and East Asia. When this was the case in New Zealand, we had no need for commieblocks.
Unfortunately, the greed of New Zealanders meant that we were unable to maintain a population in proportion to our ability to build houses for it. Helen Clark opened the borders to cheap labour from the Pacific Islands, and then John Key threw them open to the whole world. Now we have so many people here that our ability to grow outwards to give them all space has hit its limits. It might be time to admit that the quarter-acre dream is dead.
Is it commieblock time?
As a previous VJM Publishing article showed, the average New Zealand wage would have to be over $79 today if workers were to have the same chance of owning their homes as workers 26 years ago. This is clearly impossible – New Zealand employers will not pay that much money. Therefore, a majority of the current generation of young people are effectively locked out of home ownership unless they are lucky enough to inherit.
Immigration from sources of cheap labour has been so liberal, and capital investment in worker productivity so meagre, that our wages have plummeted far below the level at which owning a home and supporting a family on a working-class income is possible. With women and a large number of Third Worlders now in the labour pool, any hope of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is gone. Wages will not rise to $79 within the next half a century, and house prices will not come down unless a large number of new ones are built.
We might have to face up to the reality that a large (and growing) proportion of the workforce will simply never be able to own their own home, unless we build large numbers of commieblocks. If a new KiwiBuild home costs $649,000, and if this is supposed to be a cheap alternative to buying a house on the market, then it’s really time to bite the bullet. We need to accept that wages in New Zealand are too poor for everyone to own a villa, and this means that it’s time to build commieblocks.
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