Once upon a time there was a boy called John Banks.
When he was a very, very young boy he was in a gang with ‘Piggy’ Muldoon. He was one of Piggy’s favourites. Sometimes when Piggy would smile at him and pat him on the head. Those were the nights that John enjoyed most.
He thought back to them when he became mayor of a very small council called Auckland City.
He was mayor of a very small council, but he wasn’t content.
He wasn’t content because John didn’t want to be mayor of a very small council. A man who was one of Piggy’s favourites deserved better, he thought. And because he didn’t want to be mayor of a very small council, he borrowed a lot to make himself look bigger. It worked for Piggy, he thought. Well, for a while, anyway.
So, like Piggy, he borrowed an awful lot. He borrowed nearly one billion dollars, more than any mayor had ever borrowed before! And boy, did he and his small council have fun spending it. He felt really big, and really, really important. And people liked him, or seemed to.
Things were good.
For a while, anyway.
But John still wanted to be mayor of a big council. Of a really big council.
So when his friend Rodney amalgamated all the small Auckland councils into one big one, John knew what to do.
Unfortunately, his arch-enemy Len knew how to do it better.
So when Len did him out of the job Rodney had made for him, the job running the big council, John was really jealous. And he was especially jealous when Len said his big council was going to borrow 3.2 billion dollars, a quarter of that just to cover Johns’ debts. And he was green with envy when Len promised to crank up the debt to six billion dollars in five years time.
John was jealous, but he said nothing. He said nothing, because John had a new job. Another job. A job wearing yellow, drinking cups of tea in public, and telling people who run things they should borrow a lot less.
And no-one else wearing yellow seemed to notice what John had learned from Piggy. Or that he dribbled occasionally whenever someone mentioned Len. Or Len’s borrowing.
But at least they weren’t mentioning his.