Solutions to the pressing issues of our times #1

January 16, 2023
4 mins read

In the first of a new series concentrating on positive ways to deal with vexatious issues, GARY STEEL suggests five solutions.

1… How to get the road toll down. We’re told almost daily that the road toll must come down, but the only solution we’re given is to reduce speeds on our dangerous rural roads, which helps but doesn’t fix the problem. Today’s solution is so blindingly obvious that I just don’t get why it’s not one of the key plans of the government. New Zealand consists of two long, mountainous islands dotted with relatively small settlements and long stretches of winding and pothole-strewn roads. Why not do like they do in some advanced countries in similar situations and have A LOT of pull-offs and “temporary lanes” for slow traffic, and laws that make it obligatory for slow cars to pull into them? (And laws that slow cars must continue slowly in the slow lane, not speed up just to stop cars getting past while they can). In my own experience, I know of several rural roads that either have NO pull-off or “temporary lanes”, or just one or two during a hazardous 50km (or so) trip. This means that fast drivers inevitably get hot under the collar and inevitably end up passing slow pokes in dangerous situations, like on blind corners. And it’s terrifying for slow drivers too. This could SAVE LIVES, so why don’t they do it?

2… How to fix pedestrian chaos. Keeping left on the road works, for all. If some of us drove on the right side like Americans, then people would die, all over the show. So, why don’t we walk to the left on footpaths and in supermarket aisles too? It’s not rocket science, just common sense. And you know what? We used to do it. Keeping left on footpaths was just something everybody did, to avoid bumping into each other and keeping a flow of foot traffic. Now, I’m not anti-immigration, but it was the great wave of Asian immigrants to New Zealand that changed all this. Suddenly, keeping discretely to the left no longer worked, because people walked all higgledy-piggledy. I find myself bending my body like a gymnast just to avoid bumping into people, and when I tried – as an experiment – sticking to my lane, every single time some rude bastard would whack into me with his shoulders. These days, walking on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare is a nightmare, and the same irritating lack of protocol exists in supermarkets. As if it’s not maddening enough when someone blocks an aisle with a combination of their body and their trolley, it can be downright frightening for the elderly or frail with large people bearing down on them from all sides. I experienced a classic example of this stupid lack of human organisation recently at Costco in Auckland. It was so busy that almost the entire floor space was taken up with wandering shoppers… wandering in every direction at once, amid absolute chaos.

3… How to stop people sneaking into queues. Bring back ordered queues. Yep, you heard me. In the old days in banks and the Post Office and wherever else you had to queue, there were actually formal places for people to stand in line in order to make it absolutely clear that THIS WAS THE QUEUE and to avoid queue-jumpers. These days, wherever you go, whether it’s waiting for service at a counter or even in various situations at airports, there’s no proper queuing system. I remember being on an international flight where the line was so confused that literally dozens of people were able to sneakily push in, which of course, made the already exhausting wait that much more intolerable. What happened to proper systems for these basics and who decided that formal queuing systems were no longer required? Whoever you are, YOU.ARE.AN.IDIOT!

4… How to stop big companies ripping off consumers. Bring in legislation that really does protect the public from being ripped off. We’ve got some decent consumer laws in place, which are great when you buy a crappy washing machine and it doesn’t perform as expected. But when you end up taking someone to the Disputes Tribunal, and it goes your way, what if the wronged party never receives the compensation the tribunal orders them to give? LAWS NEED TEETH that they just don’t have at the moment. The same applies to the housing market. It seems that there’s really no protection for a hapless customer of a building company that goes bust after receiving a deposit or full payment for a new house. The same awful situation seems to play out with monotonous regularity and hard-working Kiwis lose their life savings over it. Any money put into a build should automatically be held in a safe account until the build is finished. The same should apply to people who have paid thousands in advance for travel, and – as happened recently – a travel company goes bust.

5… How to deal with rip-off insurance companies. Everybody suspects that insurance companies are basically just crooks, and that banks aren’t much better. But just as we don’t have a viable alternative to banks for savings, if we want to protect what’s ours in the case of a disaster then house insurance is a necessary evil. Yeah, but what about all the small print you never think about that makes it more or less pointless claiming on the things that actually do happen. There are many, but the most odious one that comes to mind is the clause that says something like, “we’ll cover you if you have a leak and you discover it the moment it occurs, but if it’s been going on for months undetected, you’re completely fucked, sorry.” Now, the nature of leaks is that they’re SNEAKY LEAKS. Most commonly, they occur somewhere in the works of your plumbing system, in some out of sight place, and slowly ooze away rotting floorboards and whatnot, until they’re finally discovered six months or a year after they happened. Why are they not covered by insurance? This is fucking insane. I would suggest that legislation is created to make any insurance company not covering slow leaks unwelcome on our shores. Yep, they can just fuck right off!

  • Solutions To Pressing Issues Of Our Times is an ongoing series of simple suggestions about how society can be improved. If you’ve got ideas we’d love to hear them.

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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