Thursday, 10 September 2015

Say no to hot housing.

A little over a week a ago, a house fire ravaged the home of 5 people killing 2 and putting 3 in hospital. Firefighters found smoke alarms in boxes in a cupboard.

A discussion led to a friend pointing out that some dwellings have only one safe exit. Bad news if the seat of a fire blocks the path to that exit.  While electric water heater fires are rare, they can happen I once live in an apparent where the water heater was next the apartment's one exit.

The thinking behind such an arrangement is that a concrete building is fire proof and smoke the main cause of death. If you can't escape the smoke because the exit is blocked you're screwed.

This arrangement is clearly the design product of Cthulhu. It's almost like someone is trying to creatively engineer terrible accidents so they go all Bart Simpson and deny responsibility while eliminating a "useless" or "hopeless" segment of the population. That is very unlikely, but perhaps it is a case that some just don't give a monkeys toss.

There are of course unanswered questions about the house fire, why were the smoke alarms in the cupboard and not in service? It is likely the residents were on low incomes, and preferred to buy food rather than spend upwards of $5 on a battery. After all people need to eat daily, house fires are rare. Alarms beep when the battery is low, this can be annoying and frustrating. Low income families may not keep a supply of thing they don't need regularly, Hope to buy the batteries next week, but eventually the priority just slips away, as it can for any task given to anyone.

As a society we ask people to give up "luxuries" or "privileges" to reduce costs and "live within their means" but if the costs rise as a function of inflation, but the means do not, at some point it is not just the "luxuries" that get cut it is the essentials, doctors visits, food. While some utility and food inflation  has reversed in New Zealand, housing costs have continued to rise at an average of 3.9%p.a over much of the last decade. Even in Wellington, which is not subject to Cthulhu's mind bending market manipulation in Auckland.

People on fixed incomes, while adjusted for the Cost Price Index(CPI), take no account for the increasing cost of housing. But even working adults here are getting short changed too. Their real wages have fallen since 1991, by about 25%. While New Zealand GDP rose 80% at the same time. If tomorrow you arrived at work to be asked to work twice as hard, and take a 25% cut in pay, wouldn't you  be pretty pissed? If not, what is wrong with you? Has Cthulhu got your brain in a jar?

They say companies can't afford the living wage, if true, perhaps it is also true that these companies can't afford to be in business. The economic fact is there is good data that supports the living wage as a boon to businesses, and as Henry Ford put it "the best customer is a well paid worker" the living wage makes the vast majority businesses more profitable. So here's to $19.25 for 2015.

See also
   Radio NZ - PN House Investigation Begins

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