Saturday, March 17, 2007

Maori tertiary enrolment down

According to Newsroom;

Maori Enrolement Down - University staff say figures showing a drop in the number of Maori enrolled in tertiary education are alarming and will get worse if nothing is done.

How about ending teenage dole and DPB for starters?

A basket-case state

Why is it so hard for some people to understand the detrimental effects of high taxation? The Governor of Michigan doesn't seem to.

If increasing government spending was all it took to create jobs, Michigan would have all the jobs it needs -- instead of the frightening 7.1 percent unemployment rate.

Every portfolio's in trouble

When we pull ourselves away from the section 59 debate (a red herring in more than one way) and take a look at other areas under government control, it doesn't make for edifying reading. Education is troubled with more and more schools looking away from NCEA, out-of-control truancy and the 20 hours 'free' childcare debacle; health is really messy with so much extra spending for so little discernible difference, top health professionals either walking out or leaving under a cloud, wrangling between DHBs and pharmacists starting to come to a head; corrections scandals and court blowouts; the economy with its record low productivity and interest rate rises; law and order - no explanation needed. No wonder HC has buggered off.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Very Funny Guy

For an antidote to the often dour tone of this blog go and have a read of Oh Crikey. I'm not linking to any specific post because they are all very funny...but I did particularly enjoy Why I'm Becoming a Lefty.

It's time for a good whinge. I've been of such great mood lately (so unlike me) and quite frankly, all this joy and rapture has started to depress me. I need a decent moan & a bout of unhappiness to cheer me up. I do, indeed, have sound reason to be upset. My awful bank has been sending me 'hate mail', bleating about defaulting on my credit card payments and threatening all manner of monetary penalties. Dammit!

So I've decided to become a lefty. That way, I won't need to take responsibility for my own fiscal recklessness. Instead I can blame 'the system' or 'capitalism' or America or president Bush, or someone for my unfortunate plight. Besides, I hate financial institutions anyway (a good lefty trait). Flipping tight-wads! They're a bank for goodness sake, with stacks of surplus dough to throw around. Yet they 'harass' and 'victimise' and 'persecute' a poor, needy person who's down on their luck. C'mon people! Where's the "social justice"? [see? I make a great lefty, I've got the lingo down pat]

It's partly the bank's fault anyway, I reckon. Had they declined my Visa application, neither of us would be in this invidious position. I mean, hello? I was broke! Why do they think I wanted a credit card in the first case? Shouldn't my parlous financial state have sent warning bells ringing? What were they thinking? Gee, I would've been straight-up honest with them in the first place. But did they bother to ask, "Are you wasteful and extravagant?" No, they did not! Well, excuse me, but I don't remember ticking the 'hopelessly profligate' box on the application form.

Now, I'm not the most economically literate guy (hence my current currency crisis), but why lend money to a pauper, huh? Isn't that what they call a "bad investment"? Idiots! Serves them right. Thus, I think it's only fair that they should be RESPONSIBLE for their own stuff-up and waive my debts accordingly. Surely there must be at least one sympathetic soul out there who agrees with me?

.......somebody? .......anybody?

Oh, hell. Maybe I should just take out a bank loan to help cover my C-card expenses? Yeah - good idea! Hmmm, maybe I have more financial nous than people give me credit for? Who said lefties were no good with money?

From DPB to sickness or invalid benefits - a record

Record numbers of DPB beneficiaries are transferring onto a sickness or invalid benefit.

Last year over two thousand people moved from the DPB and onto a sickness or invalid benefit. That is a 79 percent increase on the 1999 figure.

Also, indicating the length of time people are spending on this benefit, 500 people left the DPB to go onto New Zealand Superannuation.

DPB numbers may be dropping but it isn't all due to a strong labour market. A further 2,000 moved onto an unemployment benefit.

While thousands of people move off DPB each year, nearly as many return or come onto it for the first time. The nett difference in 2006 was a drop of 6,000. These new figures showing transfers to other benefits put that drop into perspective.

Compulsory counselling??

Instead of compulsory counselling after a traumatic incident these guys reckon having a stiff drink might be just as, if not more, useful.

Chris Haslett, a psychiatric registrar at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch and a New Zealand Alpine Club member, said research suggested that an emotional debriefing could be counterproductive and reinforce traumatic memories.

His view is backed by the Christchurch police search and rescue team co-ordinator, Sergeant Tony Tully, who said the trend for compulsory counselling was too rigid and it should be up to individuals to find the best way to deal with what they had encountered.

Up to the individuals? How radical. How blasphemous. How sacrilegious. We could never have that.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Paternalism and sandwiches

During the smacking debate I have heard more than one person say, next they will be telling us what we can and can't feed our kids. Quite. Well they've started in Scotland, a country which is as mired in nanny statism as NZ.

It may read like the latest healthy lunchtime range from an upmarket sandwich shop, but the menu is what the Scottish Executive believes parents should be putting in their children's lunchboxes before sending them off to school for the day.

Guidelines on what a healthy packed lunch should contain were yesterday issued to schools and placed on a special parents' website.

Of course the prescription isn't compulsory....yet.

Govt tries to prevent beneficiary 'windfalls'

Beneficiary advocates were yesterday making submissions to the social services select committee on the matter of the government's responsibility to inform clients fully of their each and every entitlement, and should they fail to do so, backdate any monies missed out on. That is the situation as it stands but the Social Security Amendment Bill would override this 'responsibility'.

Here's how a spokesperson from the Wellington People's Centre puts it;

If passed, the Labour government's Social Security Amendment Bill will override case-law to stop anyone who misses out on their rightful entitlements from ever having the chance to get that money paid back.

In other words, the money was and is rightfully the beneficiaries and because the government, by omission, failed to provide it, the beneficiary had money taken from them.

If the govt failed to inform me of a certain tax rebate or allowance what do you think my chances are of fronting up and demanding they pay me back the money they had wrongfully taken from me?

And here's another thought. If people belatedly realise they were entitled to Working For Families assistance will they be able to get it backdated? I don't think so. Because that system is under the jurisdiction of the IRD.

So why should anybody whose income is provided by the Ministry of Social Development have special status under the law?

It is enough that they can go to people with specialist knowledge who will assist and advise them free of charge. But back-dating missed 'entitlements' is a rort.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Regulatory rubbish

This is a bureaucratic nightmare. A New Plymouth Montessori centre has two licences because it has 100 students and a licence is needed for each 50. So the Ministry of Education has now decided it needs to operate as two centres.

Literally, this will mean the school having to build a fence right down the middle of its property and operate it as two centres. Parents will need to enrol their children in one centre or the other, despite the fact they will be centimetres apart.

Even worse, the children will have to play in separate playgrounds that, once again, will be immediately adjacent to each other on what legally remains the same school property.


Section 59 - A Red Herring

Today the torrid debate over repeal of section 59 will resume in Parliament. Mercifully, whichever way the vote goes, the wrangling is drawing to a close. It has been painful to witness the polarisation and hear irrelevant arguments stated ad nauseam. Between the self-righteous do-gooders using the power of the state versus the people and the hard Christian Right brandishing biblical texts, there is a third position which gets buried by earnest activists determined to "send a message".

The objection is simply that repeal of section 59 will not stop child abuse.
Just as micro-chipping dogs will not stop dog attacks. We all know that, yet had to listen to heated drawn-out debates over dog-chipping legislation which was nothing more that a weak government's attempt to demonstrate it can deal with problems. Nanaia Mahuta, Associate Minister for Local Government is still fighting a rearguard action publicising a recent feel-good story of a family and their dog reunited only because the dog was chipped. Very nice. But it wasn't the point of the legislation and it is hard to imagine any good news stories following the passage of the anti-smacking bill.

We won't be seeing headlines claiming the number of CYFS notifications has plummeted. Quite the reverse. CYFS, already struggling to keep up, could very well get less effective than they already are.

Removal of section 59 won't stop child abuse because it won't tackle the causes of child abuse. New Zealand histories of child welfare, and there are three or four under-read books on the subject, are littered with references to child abuse and the strong association with young, unmarried mothers and ethnic minorities.

The first survey into child abuse published in 1970 found that those born out of wedlock were three times more likely to be abused, Maori children 6 times more likely and Pacific children 9 times.( 25 years later a study showed children with a parent on the DPB were four times more likely to be the subject of a CYF notification.)

The thinking, then, was these mothers needed more financial support. And it came. Sadly, rather than mitigate the problem the money exacerbated it. More girls kept babies they were unable to emotionally care for while the money allowed them to live away from family or whanau. This development, compounded by rapid urbanisation, meant Maori traditional nurturing links were lost.

Most child abuse is perpetrated by mothers. Where children are hit by fathers or other males, drugs and alcohol are often involved. Drunk people do not heed messages sent from government. Last year there were around 23,000 convictions for drink-driving despite politicians constantly self-congratulating about how they dealt to that particular culture.

Compared to the sixties, when the wider public first became aware of child abuse (yes, there were stories then of babies with cigarette burns) today's statistics indicate much higher levels. It stands to reason. If policy encourages growth of the group from which abuse and neglect are most likely to hail, then the incidence will increase.

This is a group which doesn't heed laws or "messages". They have already ignored ideas about getting an education, skills, and family planning.

If Sue Bradford's bill is passed it won't personally bother me. I don't demand the right to smack. Non-violence is an ideal many of us do our best to practice.

The tragedy will be that once again Parliament has acted out a charade which allows them to avoid doing something, anything that would take real moral courage; that risks being unpopular with voting blocks like feminists and beneficiaries.

Actions like stopping payments to teenage parents, stopping CYFS from pressuring girls to keep their babies and go on the DPB, encouraging adoptions which have fallen from almost 4,000 in the early seventies to just 300 a year today.

If this bill is really about stopping child abuse, and not about making parents who smack their children criminals, then we should expect a raft of other measures such as those described. Ironically, the major effect of its passage will be to delay real reform while too many New Zealand children continue to live frightened, insecure and disconnected lives.

Being tangata whenua

If you were ever in doubt about what being tangata whenua means from a Maori perspective this should clarify it for you. Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngati Te Ata and other hapu and iwi are angry that Ngati Whatua o Orakei are being offered greater rights by the Crown.

He (spokesman for Te Kawerau a Maki) also said it was likely that local councils and government departments would view the settlement as acknowledgment of Ngati Whatua o Orakei's tangata whenua status for the region, excluding other groups from consultation and involvement in cultural and protocol issues.

That's why it bothers me when John Key says;

The National Party will always believe in one standard of citizenship and I want to make this very clear to you today.........Maori are the tangata whenua of this country, and we have nothing to fear by acknowledging that.

The two statements are incompatible.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why the PM is supporting removal (?) of s59

I had the opportunity to talk to the PM this morning on NewstalkZB and put a two-part question to her; Why do you believe removal of section 59 will stop child abuse and why are you not allowing your party to exercise a conscience vote on this matter?

This is her verbatim answer;

Firstly, I have never said it would stop child abuse. Secondly, It isn't removal. It is an amendment to section 59. The plain fact is that smacking or hitting or assaulting a child now is a crime under the Crimes Act. Some people are prosecuted. They are the people who have been seen to have seriously beaten a child. Because the law says that there is a defence of reasonable force people who thrash and hit children are escaping conviction and that's not right. Now, we are right down the bottom of western countries with a terrible record of threats to child safety, child death and injury and we have to do something about that and sending a signal that really, there are other forms of discipline available is very important. I no more think that the parent who lightly smacks a child will be dragged into court than I would fly to the moon. I just don't believe that. But what I believe is that section 59, with that legal defence which can be mounted needs to go because it is enabling people who viciously assault children to get off.

She omitted to answer the second part. Perhaps because she gave me an answer in two parts she thought she had.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pass me another tissue

This press release just shows the level of self-deception members of government practise. Nanaia Mahuta uses a sob story about a rottie that went missing but, thanks to being microchipped, has now been reunited with its owners.

"Levi's return is great news for the Haurua family, and it also highlights the real benefits of microchipping for other dogs and their owners," Nanaia Mahuta said.

"Microchipping is a simple, lifelong way to identify dogs and link them to their owner, and as this case highlights, results in the speedier return of lost, stolen or injured animals.

"As time goes by and more dogs are progressively microchipped, I think we will start hearing more stories like this in which dogs are successfully reunited with their owners," Nanaia Mahuta said.

But the government didn't pass the legislation to ensure pets couldn't be irretrievably lost. They passed it to identify dangerous beasts AFTER an attack on either a person or other animal. Can Nanaia give us an example of that happening?

Bad news for Bradford

A poll run on the Young Labour website shows 80 percent are opposed to repealing section 59.

(Hat-tip Family First)

And yesterday the SST reported Tariana Turia wavering on her support for Bradford's bill:

"Turia, who has previously given strong speeches in favour of the bill, said she is concerned Maori and Pacific families would be "targeted and criminalised" if it is passed."

Build them and they will come

John Key says National will build more state houses and stick with Labour's policy of income-related rents. More of the state competing with the private sector, more incentivising low incomes with means-testing. Away from an ownership society and personal responsibility. More ghetto-isation. More state redistribution.

As a man with considerable wealth why doesn't John Key build homes for the poor? That would be more in keeping with the civil society, private charity ideas he has been pushing of late. Policy-wise, I find Mr Key all over the place.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nanny state; the substitute

According to Ruth Hill, writing in the Sunday Star Times, having a stepmum or stepdad is the reality for 40% of Kiwi kids. Around 30% of kids live in single parent homes. So only 30% of children live with their biological mum and dad?

And apparently only 2 out of 5 step families stay together.

One of the defining aspects of my life has been the security and stability of having an intact family. In a way it is little wonder we have such a pervasive (and accepted) nanny state today. So many people look to the government to supply the security their families cannot.

Government is a bit like the dummy instead of the breast. As a substitute it soothes but it can't nourish.