Friday, July 06, 2007

Creative maths - reduced credibility

Judith Collins is employing some creative maths in this press release. She says there is a total of $750 million owed in benefit debt. But fails to mention that the majority - 56% - is non-current ie the person owing the debt is no longer a beneficiary. Then she says the following;

"In March 2002 there were 343,000 working-age beneficiaries and total benefit debt stood at $537million. Now there are about 250,000 beneficiaries and the debt is $750 million, about $3000 for very working-age beneficiary."

Dividing the total debt between current beneficiaries is then, meaningless, except if you want the public to gasp. Divide current debt by current beneficiaries and the sum is closer to $1,300. And then factor in that much of this debt is legitimate recoverable assistance (also conveniently overlooked by the National Spokesperson).

Ms Collins headline is "Benefit debt recovery unchanged despite spending". In fact, per current beneficiary, it has improved.

It would almost certainly be more difficult to recover debt from people no longer receiving a benefit (which can be subjected to automatic deductions.) Growing non-current debt may be an aspect of reduced beneficiary numbers that has to be lived with. Or should we get all the ex-beneficiaries back on welfare in order that we can deduct their debts from guaranteed weekly payments?

Apologists rally

John Howard's plans to stop aboriginal child abuse and general lawlessness have provoked a New Zealand rally to show support - not for Howard but the indigenous people;

We aim to - Send a loud and clear message of solidarity to the indigenous peoples suffering from Howard's racist attacks on human rights.
- Raise awareness of issues concerning colonisation and stolen land, racism, family violence, and how indigenous peoples throughout the South Pacific face further loss of land to big mining companies.

Life in the EU

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

16 May 2007

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?

I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.

I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill

(sent to me by a friend)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Teen sells virginity for $25,000"

Oh Lord. Don't let the Greens get hold of this. They'll immediately scream, education should be free for all!

Well, no, it shouldn't. And if the seller can find a willing buyer that's her business.


National Party leader John Key wants to take a more ethnically diverse range of MPs into the next election and is set to make the topic a priority when the party's list rankings are decided next year.

Any thoughts for merit? This is collectivist claptrap. Exactly the type of idea the Left would embrace. Don't forget women, John. And I don't think you've got a lesbian yet, or a Muslim, or a dope smoker. All groups needing representation in a special interests, what's-in-it-for-me parliament.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why we marched - wilful ignorance

I can't get past this comment today. At a meeting calling for an end to Maori violence,

Organiser Suzanne Pene from South Auckland Family Violence Prevention Network said the country's tolerance for violence hit the streets during the furore over Sue Bradford's smacking bill. "I know that violence is not part of my tikanga but when I look at New Zealand marching [against the act] I think what have we become?"

Oh yeah. That's why I marched against Sue Bradford's bill. To enshrine the right of Maori to abuse their kids.

The Maori Party co-leader said men were responsible for the majority of violent acts but it was women who were left to find solutions to the problem.

Oh yeah again. Like Maori women never hit or hurt their kids. You're a denier Turia.

She said violence was not an ethnic problem, it was a problem all societies faced despite the hundreds of vitriolic emails she received every year whose angriest lines blamed violence in Maori culture for the depressing Maori crime statistics.

Violence is a problem for all ethnicities but more so for some than others. A disproportionate amount of violence in this country, be it against children or adults, is perpetrated by and experienced by Maori. 49 percent of children in Care and Protection foster placements are Maori. In 2003 the rate of substantiated child abuse per 1,000 0-16 year-olds was 11.9 for Maori compared to 5.9 for non-Maori.

The only real solution to this problem lies with the individual - male and female. Don't commit violence and don't accept it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Research Confirms Two Parents Better Than One

Research Confirms Two Parents Better Than One
Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 10:27 am
Press Release: Lindsay Mitchell

Tuesday, 3 July, 2007

Research published in the July 2007 on-line journal of the International Child and Youth Care Network confirms that the best environment for children to be raised in is with two biological married parents.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says the research is significant for two reasons. "Firstly it represents meta-analyses of large numbers of studies, and second, it appears in a non-political, non-religious forum."

"Changes in US family structure are similar to those experienced in New Zealand, if not quite as dramatic. For instance in 2005, 36.8 percent of US births were non-marital compared to 45.2 percent in New Zealand."

Paul Amato, professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, examined the effect of family formation on children and what accounted for the differences between children raised by two biological parents and those raised by one. He looks at a variety of situations for children including having happily married parents, unhappily married parents, divorced parents, co-habiting parents, one parent from birth, step-parents and a widowed parent.

Overall the evidence is consistent that parental divorce during childhood is linked with a wide range of problems in adulthood. Similarly children growing up with a single parent because they were born out of marriage are more likely to experience a variety of emotional and behavioural problems. He says, "Specifically, compared with children who grew up in stable, two-parent families children born outside marriage reach adulthood with less education, earn less income, have lower occupational status, are more likely to be idle (that is , not employed and not in school), are more likely to have a non-marital birth (among daughters) have more troubled marriages, experience higher rates of divorce and report more symptoms of depression.'"

Interestingly Amato found children with co-habiting parents also had increased problems because co-habiting parents were more disadvantaged and the risk of relationship dissolution was substantially higher. "Growing up with two continuously cohabiting biological parents is rare. "

Experiencing the death of a parent also puts children at greater risk but not as much as does divorce or out-of-marriage birth.

Children in high conflict households experienced problems similar to those of divorced children or worse. But the majority of marriages that end in divorce were low-conflict. Partners were emotionally estranged. They did not fight frequently or express hostility to each other. While these parents viewed a separation as positive, their children often viewed it as 'unexpected, inexplicable and unwelcome' .

Where step-families survive, relationships can become supportive and close but often step- family formation is stressful for children involving loss of autonomy and upheaval. "Studies consistently indicate, however, that children in step-families exhibit more problems than do children with continuously married parents and about the same number of problems as do children with single parents."

Answering the question, why do single-parent families put children at risk, Amato examines economic hardship, the quality of parenting, exposure to stress and the likelihood of geneitc predispostion to traits that had 'selected' their parent into single parenthood.

Amoto concludes, "Compared with other children, those who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive more effective co-parenting, are emotionlly closer to both parents (especially fathers) and are subjected to fewer stressful events and circumstances."

Responding to this research Mitchell comments, "It is both astonishing and deeply disappointing that despite overwhelming evidence many governments persist with social policies that undermine marriage. For forty years New Zealand has subsidised one parent families at the cost of two parent families. It is time the state adopted a far more neutral position allowing the course of family formation to revert to what works for children. "


Full paper available at


Judith Collins has just put out a release detailing the increasing number of MSD staff administering a decreasing number of benefits. It's 10.30.

I could just about write the Minister's response which will appear some time today. He will explain that the increasing number of staff are responsible for the intensive efforts which have seen the number of beneficiaries decline. Want a bet?

Perhaps I should run a book on how long it will take. Oooops. Forgot. Nanny doesn't allow on-line betting. Perish the thought.

Dumbed down by the DomPost

There is a world of difference between Richard Long's columns and Michael Bassett's. Bassett would take an issue and give it historical and political context. When passionate about a topic he didn't hold back. Unless I am not paying proper attention, Richard Long merely cheerleads for National. Another column today is a typical example, "The creaking of third term-itis". It lists Labour's recent problems and re-inforces Clark's extremely unlikely chances of re-election based on past trends. It's like reading an election pamphlet. AND Long has omitted the usual declaration of interest that tags his columns.

Bassett was 'let go' because it was revealed he had a hand in Brash speeches and also shared and promoted ideas similar to those Brash might espouse. However Bassett did not write entire columns based purely on a political bias towards the National Party.

Yes, I am still angry that the DomPost deprived us of Bassett's shrewd views and replaced him with a politically-slanted scribbler.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Again - ACT philosophy is not right-wing

For the record I don't mind ACT supporting Labour IF the support is based on classical liberal principles ie less state and greater individual power. I hate ACT being described as right wing - here and here. I grew up in a Labour household and voted Labour before I voted Libertarianz and then ACT. I was pleased and appreciative of my ranking on ACT's list in 2005. It wasn't right-wing conservative ideas that got me there.

The Working for Families goose

I knew WFF represented a fairly dramatic lift in redistribution but the money available continues to surprise me. Here's a couple of stories from the latest Ministry of Social Development regional newsletters;

Recently one of Eileen’s clients was a woman on the Domestic Purposes Benefit who was experiencing severe financial and mental hardship. Eileen assessed that the woman was not receiving her correct family assistance entitlements, so on behalf of the client she made one phone call to IRD. Fifteen minutes later she was informed that her client would receive an extra $184 per week plus an $8,000 back payment from IRD. “Prior to our meeting she was showing signs of extreme distress. When she left us she was over the moon, a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders, all the stress and emotion had gone,” says Eileen.

Work and Income even go looking for people to give it to;

Forty thousand people over a four-day festival kept Work and Income staff busy at the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka competition held in Palmerston North. Work and Income staff were there promoting the Working for Families package, and information on Enterprising Communities. “This is a huge whänau event where we were able to provide families with information that can change lives. People were surprised at how much they can be earning and still be eligible for assistance, it’s great that we are out there reaching people who normally wouldn’t come to us for assistance,” said Rongo Puketapu, Working for Families Case Manager.

Whatever happened to New Zealanders, the rugged individualists.