Is it still ok to dream?

In February 2023, The Last Mile5 MinutesBy The Accidental TruckerFebruary 22, 2023

For my first story of 2022, I chose the title, The Year that Never Was. If this was so for 2021, then 2022 must surely be its twin. It’s hard to remember a year that had the potential to deliver so much but ended up going the wrong way. We can only hope that, despite the warning signs, 2023 ends better than 2022.

It’s common to look back on predictions made at the beginning of a year to see how one did. This is a waste of time for me – what happened happened, end of story. Without doubt, many things that drew our attention in 2022 will keep on rolling through 2023 and beyond – such as the deplorable state of our roads – while money is still thrown at building cycleways in the forlorn hope they will make a major impact on climate change, and the state of our health and education systems. With an election later in the year, the spin doctors, whom I found out recently should be called linguistical interpreters, will be dominating government communications as we have never seen before. Make sure you have plenty of paracetamol on hand – I am sure it won’t go amiss.

In 2022, we watched events unfolding in Ukraine and were again reminded how impotent the United Nations is in doing what they were originally set up to do – prevent open conflict between countries. We looked on as more and more of our small businesses went to the wall. We watched as interest rates reached new levels, and we saw our health system collapse before our eyes. We saw the number of people killed on the roads increase to its highest level in four years, despite the high focus and million-dollar-plus spend on the Road to Zero policy. Ironically, it is five years since Julie Anne Genter, as Associate Minister of Transport, introduced the policy. We saw China’s impact on world commodities and trade, which must surely raise the question of where the world’s economic power really lies.

On the positive side, commuters in Wellington were given a ‘Christmas bonus’ – at least, this is what the headline in the Dominion Post said on 21 December. This ‘bonus’ was the opening of the Peka Peka-to-Otaki section of SH1, albeit two years behind schedule and $230 million over budget. One hopes that we will not read soon of lane closures for repairs as happened on Transmission Gully.

In the weeks to come, no doubt there will be many groups and individuals, genuine or with self-interest, coming out and saying, ‘The government must do this.’ Usually, this is accompanied by a request (demand) for money. Are these people so naive that they still don’t understand the government has no money? It is our money obtained through government charges. Look out for an increase in many of these this year, and tax on the money borrowed, in which case, it becomes our debt that has to be repaid with interest.

During his inauguration address in January 1961, President John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Although this was spoken in the context of a different world to the one in which we live now, the intent remains valid. New Zealanders were once looked at as people who just got on and achieved things and succeeded often by using their own initiative, while developing skills and knowledge along the way. Our industry was at the forefront of this – one only has to look at the early innovation in trailer and truck design to suit New Zealand conditions to see this.

Sadly, this trait of just getting on and doing appears to be gone now. Mores the pity, with more people just wanting to whinge and moan and expecting the government to help. Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and think about the phrase Dr Martin Luther King used in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on 28 August 1963 – ‘I have a dream’ – and dream of a New Zealand society where we just got on and did things. That is, of course, if we can still dream without government help.