As we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021, it’s a good time to catch up on the very best of the Herald columnists we enjoyed reading over the last 12 months. From politics to sport, from business to entertainment and lifestyle, these are the voices and views our audience loved the most. Today it’s the top three from Simon Wilson.
Hosking's road-cone rage – what's really going on?
Back in February’s pre-Covid days, Mike Hosking declared he was thinking about leaving town because of roadworks. While Wilson agrees we’re all frustrated, it’s incorrect to suggest we’d be better off if this work wasn’t done.
As Wilson writes, Hosking’s problem stems from entitlement: he’s upset the city is not planning its transport around his own preferences.
Planning the city’s transport to make it easy for everyone to drive across Queen St would be the stupidest and most nightmarish thing they could possibly do.
As Wilson says, the quickest way to get across town is on a bicycle. Ride a bike, Mike, you’ll wonder what ever took you so long.
Beach Haven and the future of social housing
In March about 60 people crammed into the Beach Haven Community House on the North Shore to hear officials from the housing agency Kainga Ora about the new projects in their area. Almost all were dismayed at a large cluster of three-storey apartment blocks planned for Beach Haven Rd.
Beach Haven has always been a state-house suburb. It has buses, a ferry service and good parks. The new projects should benefit the suburb: more people will mean better public transport, for example.
But will they? You can do it cheap, fast or good: any two but not all three. That’s the received wisdom. And that’s what “pace and scale” comes down to. Good got left behind.
Wilson asks, what’s the point of solving a supply crisis if you risk creating a slum crisis?
The 'magic money tree' politicians don't want to talk about
It’s the question we’re not supposed to ask, because we’re not supposed to know the answer. How come the Government can just rustle up all this debt? When it allocates billions to urgent Covid-related priorities, where’s it getting all that money?
The answer, Wilson writes, is it comes from a magical money tree.
Money trees became popular during the global financial crisis that began in 2008, when governments around the world decided printing money was the best way to save local economies.
And while politicians of almost every stripe tell us this tree doesn’t exist, right now economists and financial commentators are busily debating how much we should let it grow.
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