Who or what does this remind you of?:
Intention these days is nine-tenths of virtue, and intention is measured mainly by what people say that their intentions are.
The words are Theodore Dalrymple’s and he was writing about urban environmentalists and their belief in the green credentials of electric cars but it immediately made me think of our government.
Many of its intentions are good.
Who could argue against solving the housing crisis, reducing poverty or keeping us all safe from Covid-19?
But intentions are not achievements and time and time again the government’s good intentions have got very little, if any, further than their announcements.
Housing prices have escalated so that even outside the big cities they’re selling for far too many times the average wage. That has made anyone who doesn’t own their own home poorer and worsened conditions for people already struggling to pay the rent and power and feed their families.
The government won a few skirmishes against Covid-19 last year but the war continues and we’re all having to fight the latest battle because the intention to keep the disease out hasn’t been matched by learning from past mistakes and ensuring they’re not repeated.
Then there’s Afghanistan.
No doubt the government intended to rescue all New Zealand citizens and the locals who had helped our army but again it’s fallen well short in delivering, leaving behind an estimated 375 New Zealand citizens, visa holders, and Afghan allies.
New Zealand isn’t alone in the botched withdrawal but that doesn’t make our government any less culpable for letting those people down and making the chances of getting them out successfully much, much poorer.
The proverb tells us the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
It is too big a stretch to say the government is taking us to hell, but its repeated failure to deliver on its good intentions certainly aren’t helping New Zealand feel like paradise.