Doom and gloom brigade out in force

The world, they say, is made up of two types of people, the glass half-full type, or the glass half-empty type.

The glass half-empty brigade have been having a wonderfully miserable time of late as Wellington revels in being the worst performing economic region in the country, and in for a multibillion-dollar cleanup bill and hundreds of deaths if the big one ever hits.

I can only presume that most of my media colleagues are in the glass half-empty brigade given the prominence these stories have received, but they really need to look on the bright side.

Who says a massive earthquake wouldn't be good for us? It might raise a whole area of new land to build on, all our substandard buildings would be demolished, allowing the construction of more modern and safe structures, and the powers-that-be might finally see the benefits of actually building Transmission Gully.

More than that it would be bloody good for the economy. The Treasury boffins and economic commentators tell us were it not for Christchurch we really would be in the same basket as the Greeks or Spanish.

As it is, projections for increased building demand, skilled labour and raw material may just keep us afloat on the troubled sea of international finance.

But do the statisticians and boffins bother looking at the upside of a big quake? Not on your life. They, like many Kiwis, would rather talk up the downside than look at the positives that might flow from a major earthquake.

Then again, doom and gloom and dire predictions of calamity are all the rage in many areas.

I watched the parliamentary debate on the Mixed Ownership Model Bill on Thursday as Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Hone Harawira all muttered darkly about how flogging off 49 per cent of a few power companies was the end of democracy as we know it, a betrayal of the Treaty of Waitangi and a harbinger of the downfall of the National Government. That was kind of rich coming from Labour MPs who themselves have advocated mixed ownership and sold state assets without any select committee protest at all.

Winston Peters called it the Benedict Arnold Bill and promised to ring every ousted National MP next election night to say "I told you so". Seems he's forgotten his part in the partial privatisation of Auckland Airport when he was on the Treasury benches.

But the politicians, like the seismologists and the climate change scientists, know we like having the pants scared off us.

Even Lucy Lawless was playing the fear card this week as she pleaded guilty over her occupation of an oil research vessel earlier this year.

Lawless told the media she had done the right thing because Big Oil is knowingly raping the planet of its natural resources so as to leave it barren for future generations.

You might also say they're taking huge risks and spending huge amounts of money searching for scarce deposits of substances our way of life is currently built around and that the downstream of their work is the maintenance of society as we know it, the creation of new jobs and a boost in economic activity.

I guess I am a glass half-full sort of person. Sure, we individually and collectively have our fair share of problems but, as FDR famously said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

If the big one hits I'll be trying to help those around me, when 49 per cent of Mighty River is put up for sale I hope we get a bloody good price and until Greenpeace spends as much as oil companies and car manufacturers trying to find alternate fuel sources, I'll keep driving the V8.

Meantime, I reckon Wellingtonians should get on with enjoying their city, spend money in its shops and eateries, encourage improvements in local body efficiency and talk up its cultural diversity and natural beauty.

To do anything else would be to give in to the fear mongers and those who yell in 100 different ways through political rhetoric, scientific analysis or economic statistics that the end of the world is nigh.

Even half-full, compared with many others round the world, our cups runneth over and while wearing rose-tinted shades may not be the answer, it's preferable to looking through a glass darkly.

The Dominion Post