Friday, August 08, 2008

Socialism by stealth

This is the full list of recommendations from a report on child poverty commissioned by the Children's Commissioner and Barnardos. Take a deep breath before you read it;

Ensure that all children are enroled in Wellchild and a general practice service at birth.

Ensure children can get after-hours and weekend medical attention and prescriptions at all times, without cost.

Improve immunisation rates to match the best-performing OECD countries.

Progressively extend free medical visits to children of all ages in all areas.

Expand the stock of public, local authority and non-profit rental housing to ensure timely allocation to all families with children who meet the “severe” and “significant” housing-need criteria.

Further develop long term, collaborative commitments between central government, local government, communities and business, to programmes of infrastructure development and community renewal in low-income communities.

Substantially increase funding via the Discretionary Grants Scheme for establishment grants and running costs, to equalise access to and participation in early childhood care and education services across deciles.

Provide free early childhood care and education for at-risk children aged 18 months to three years from low-income households, taking account of the lessons from the forthcoming evaluation of the Family Start early childhood hubs pilot.

In the medium term, extend the age range and number of hours of free early childhood care and education entitlement.

Provide extra support and funding (in addition to decile funding) to lower-decile schools, linked to specific programmes and initiatives such as reading recovery
and professional development, with the objective of achieving equitable education outcomes.

Set targets for raising teenage parents’ school participation, qualifications and achievements to match average qualifications and achievements.

Raise the maximum payment rate for paid parental leave from its current level of under half of average adult full-time earnings to at least two-thirds of average full-time earnings, and extend the period of paid parental leave to six months (plus four weeks paternity leave) as a matter of priority, and subsequently to 12 months plus four weeks paternity leave.

Review the design and operation of the childcare subsidy with a view to making it easier and fairer to use, increasing take-up and ensuring adequacy.

Substantially increase funding to support the rapid development of affordable
out-of-school services and extended school services, giving priority to lower-income communities.

Fund out-of-school services through direct support to providers on the basis of hours of use, rather than through the Out of School Care and Recreation subsidy.

Restore the 30 percent part-time work abatement threshold for sole-parent beneficiaries to the real value it had when it was set in 1996.

Change the Housing New Zealand Corporation income-related rent formula to improve incentives for tenants to enter work or increase their hours of work.

Increase the minimum wage incrementally, as economic conditions allow.

Review the adequacy of core benefit rates, to ensure benefit assistance is sufficient to meet the needs of beneficiaries, especially those with dependent children.

As an immediate first step, increase benefit rates to match the effect of the Budget 2008 income tax reductions on earned income.

Review the mechanism for annual adjustments to benefit rates, and consider a mechanism, such as that used for New Zealand Superannuation, to ensure benefit rates maintain relativity with wages over time, as well as being adjusted for cost-of-living increases.

Restructure the family tax credit so as to reduce the number of rates and to provide relatively more assistance for young children.

Over time, phase out the in-work tax credit and raise the family tax credit, once the availability and affordability of childcare and out-of-school services in low-income areas and for low-income families have been expanded, making it easier for working parents to meet these work-related costs.

Progressively raise the threshold for family tax credit abatement to increase assistance to and reduce effective marginal tax rates for low- to middle-income working families.

Increase the maximum accommodation supplement payments so they reflect actual rental levels and establish a periodic review of maximum payments.

Develop better whole-of-government approaches to ensuring the repayment of government debt does not result in child poverty.

Pass on child support to custodial parents who are on benefits, and treat payments like any other earned income for the purposes of benefit abatement.

Remove the penalty on domestic purposes benefit beneficiaries who do not name liable parents.

Undertake a full review of the child support system, similar to the review in Australia, to ensure that it is fair, contributes appropriately to reducing child poverty and is responsive to the growth of shared parenting and blended families.

This is my list;

- Get rid of lifestyle welfare

- Cut taxes substantially

- Encourage adoption

- Financially incentivise use of long term contraceptives

- Teach children about actions, consequences and personal responsibility thus ending the victimhood and entitlement mentalities

The price tag on the first list would have to be in the billions of dollars.

My list would save us billions.

But more importantly my list is fair to all individuals; it does not rely on massively increased state-forced wealth redistribution which is driving away the productive and ambitious; and it gives children a much better chance of realising there own potential. The first list really is 'socialism by stealth' - stealth because it is attempted in the name of children and most people do not have the wits to realise what it is.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Using the F word in Parliament

Yesterday Sue Bradford used the full version of the F word in Parliament to emphasise and draw attention to the case she was highlighting.

I am less concerned about Sue Bradford's language in Parliament than the bias against Work and Income staff that triggered it. Bradford takes up the case of beneficiaries routinely but who speaks up for the Work and Income staff? In the year to July 2004 there were 864 reports of abusive behaviour by beneficiaries. Hundreds are banned from Work and Income offices at any given time. I am fairly sure many would also have been using the 'f' word but it doesn't prompt Bradford to go to bat for their case managers in Parliament. If listeners found the full word shocking and offensive they should give a thought to how staff feel when they are on the receiving end, which is more commonly the case.

Just who is responsible?

What is wrong with this country? Or at least some of the people trying to run it.

More than anybody else (except in rare cases) a child's safety is paramount to his mother or father. There is a bond between mother and child which triggers a physical feeling in a mother when she sees her child hurt. She is forever trying to keep one eye on the child and the other on the ball.

Yet there are legislators abroad who don't think this is enough. They know better that a child needs more than simply a safe environment for the short time his mother is exercising at the gym. They will make it incredibly difficult for gyms to continue to offer creches and parents with dependent young (often when a mother most feels the need) a chance to use them.

Something that has increasingly bugged me about reporting of this type - news about the passage of legislation - is that we don't get to find out who is responsible for such asinine lawmaking. Which committee is it? Who sits on it? What are their individual views? If we want people to be interested in and participate in the political process more should be made of which parties are involved in supporting and passing legislation that thwarts the wishes of business and parents.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Guest blogger

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find time to blog but my boy has responded to two matters that had also triggered a not dissimilar response in me. So I will let him speak.

My thoughts on current events

If you were watching 3 news last night you may have seen the story of the girl who’s bebo page got hacked and deleted. So at first I thought why is this in the news it actually happens all the time, in fact it’s happened to me. So I watched more on it and the story was amazing. The girls bebo page had been hacked and instead of shrugging it off (get this) she called the POLICE. Now you may think oh the police probably couldn’t care less, well they actually did care so now a woman is facing up to seven years in jail for hacking and deleting a social networking page. The thing that astonishes me about this is how it has been thrown out of proportion. This kind of thing probably happens at least once a day I would say, yet one 16 year old girl decides no I cant just make a new page (which I’m sure is what most people do and it isn’t very hard) I have to go to the police and use up their time and resources for a insignificant crime of hacking. Now after just reading the article on 3 news site I have picked something else up, the statement “for a teenager who’s LIFE REVOLVES AROUND A COMPUTER”. Really? Does your life revolve around a computer? It’s a pretty big thing to say and if it does maybe you need to get out more! (I know I’m not a prime example but really). Also this quote straight from the teenager "I felt angry and unhappy because there was a lot of personal things on there," WHY WOULD YOU PUT PERSONEL THINGS ON A SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, everyone knows they can be very easily accessed by the public all you need is an account and If the page has no privacy settings well… and you would think there is enough coverage on the issue of social networking sites gone bad that people would get the point but obviously some tech savvy teenagers do not learn.
Now I’m going to move onto the point about how it wastes the polices time and resources. How much time have the police spent on tracking the perpetrator down? They have to go to the ISP then find the person who hacked the page then get an arrest warrant or something like that then go through court proceedings and all that crap. Now in that time they could have caught killers, but instead some girl decides no I cant just take one hour to make a new page (adding friends and such) I have to go to the police.
To be honest I don’t really think the girl realises how insignificant the crime is, and also how common it is. Stopping one 19 year old girl from hacking will hardly make the world a better place so I ask you, what is the point.

Now to a different topic, many of you may have heard of an after school TV show called sticky TV. Now they have a section called what would you do? It’s a run-of-the-mill “I have a problem and I’m too stupid to solve it myself please help me!” show, and its very politically correct as well. They have two people that tell their problems to them via vlog and I can’t stand either of them. Yesterday the girl was going on about how she went to her schools canteen/ tuck shop whatever you want to call it and “I was shocked, there was absolutely no healthy food at all there was only junk food and the drinks were full of sugar! Sticky TV please help me”, that is the exact words, and this really made me mad.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Obviously you are too stupid to realise that food isn’t being shoved down your throat by the SS and that in fact you have choice in the matter. Why are people so blind? It isn’t the 1940s and the SS and definitely not coming to your house and shoving pies and chips and coke down your throat, “guten tag, we are here to supervise the eating of the chips”, ha-ha that’s a funny thought. But really if you are so worried about there only being junk food then maybe you should just bring your own bloody lunch. It isn’t hard to make a sandwich or are you too blind to do that as well? Or wait… you’re afraid the SS are going to take you away if you try? No. plus wouldn’t it be cheaper too make your own sandwich? The canteen would charge ridiculously high prices because healthy food is always more expensive and also if the world was the way you wanted it the shop wouldn’t be in business. There is a perfect example at Wellington high school, the cafeteria started serving healthy food and because of that the students wouldn’t buy from there anymore which resulted in it closing down. The fact is people aren’t interested in paying **** loads for healthy food because they can buy something they prefer which is also cheaper. I cant understand these people, are they too stupid too realise how business’s work? These are the kind of people that will one day govern us and make the world a terrible place because of their upbringing which told them “children, healthy food is good and pies eat your spleen”.
IMO this girl needs to wake up and realise that you can say no and you can make a sandwich and take it too school and if you don’t like junk food there is no law forcing you to eat it. Maybe in her dreams Hitler is grand chancellor of New Zealand, the SS man the tuck shops and that gives her a reason for outcry but sorry to burst your bubble… the world is not like that.

Update; The young blogger has set up his own site

Sue the state?

Another case with unremarkable hallmarks. For as long as governments have been keeping records, child abuse has been shown to be linked with children who are ex-nuptial, and born to very young mothers who are more likely to be Maori or Pacific. Over fifty years they have thrown more and more resources at the problem only to incentivise and aggravate it.

When someone on welfare (and they almost always are) is convicted by the courts for child abuse is there a case for state to be held accountable for aiding and abetting the crime?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

We need education vouchers here - now

ACT wants education vouchers made available in New Zealand. It will push this policy hard if it holds the balance of power after the election. And before the purists out there start attacking the policy again, I know it's not perfect, but it is a big step in the right direction and there are thousands of NZ parents right now breaking their backs (or hearts) over the state monopolising secondary education.

Here is an update on how the voucher system has changed education in Sweden;

Big Change for Welfarist Sweden: School Choice

The Associated Press
Saturday, July 26, 2008; 11:31 AM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Schools run by private enterprise? Free iPods and laptop computers to attract students?

It may sound out of place in Sweden, that paragon of taxpayer-funded cradle-to-grave welfare. But a sweeping reform of the school system has survived the critics and 16 years later is spreading and attracting interest abroad.

"I think most people, parents and children, appreciate the choice," said Bertil Ostberg, from the Ministry of Education. "You can decide what school you want to attend and that appeals to people."

Since the change was introduced in 1992 by a center-right government that briefly replaced the long-governing Social Democrats, the numbers have shot up. In 1992, 1.7 percent of high schoolers and 1 percent of elementary schoolchildren were privately educated. Now the figures are 17 percent and 9 percent.

In some ways the trend mirrors the rise of the voucher system in the U.S., with all its pros and cons. But while the percentage of children in U.S. private schools has dropped slightly in recent years, signs are that the trend in Sweden is growing.

Before the reform, most families depended on state-run schools following a uniform national curriculum. Now they can turn to the "friskolor," or "independent schools," which choose their own teaching methods and staff, and manage their own buildings.

They remain completely government-financed and are not allowed to charge tuition fees. The difference is that their government funding goes to private companies which then try to run the schools more cost-effectively and keep whatever taxpayer money they save.

Bure Equity, listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, is the largest private school operator in Sweden and is expanding rapidly. In the first quarter of this year, net profit for its education portfolio rose 33 percent to $3 million.

Such profit-making troubles Swedes who don't think taxpayers should be enriching corporations.

The Social Democrats strongly opposed the change as anti-egalitarian, but when they were re-elected to power in 1994, they found it was so popular that they left it in place, though they imposed a lid on fees.

Barbro Lillkaas, a 40-year-old accountant, is considering putting her child in a private school, and has no problem with the profit motive.

"If you run a good operation then you make a profit. But you won't get any students if you are bad," she said. "You have to do a good job to get money; that is even more important for a private school."

"Why I do not vote National"

"...ACT is a classical liberal party. Liberals believe that it is the citizen who has the rights and obligations, not the collective....there is a public perception that ACT is sort of a more right-wing version of National; that National and ACT are in coalition, that we share a common approach. Not so, ACT has never been in coalition with National. ACT declined to join the Shipley National Government because we had significant differences with National's big spending, high-tax programme and failure to promote freedom...[in government] National voted against important bills ACT introduced...ACT's bills were opposing privilege and limiting the power of the state. National was preserving the status quo and avoiding alienating privileged groups, or was just rolled by officials against whom, having no basic principles, National's ministers are helpless to argue against....But public confusion about ACT and National is understandable. Both National and ACT oppose Labour's radical collectivist programme. ACT and National fought the re-nationalisation of ACC, the empowering of unions by the Employment Relations Act, the envy rate that the new rate of income tax voters and commentators assume ACT and National are similar parties. Not so. ACT is as I explained a classic liberal party. National is a conservative party. National so far as it has a programme supports the status quo, things as they are, and opposes change. So in opposition we find ourselves together resisting Labours proposals for change. ACT because they are bad policy, but National just because they are proposals for change...It was Hayek in his famous article 'Why I am not a Conservative'who pointed out the inadequacy of the conservative approach. Conservatism 'by its very nature, cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving'. ...There is a lot of criticism of Bill English and the current National MPs for failing to stand for anything. A great deal of criticism is unfair. When has the National Party ever stood for an alternative programme? National's record is to oppose whatever Labour proposes and then move leftward to adopt Labour's programme. National governments have got elected by promising to manage better whatever Labour has put in place...the history of the National Party is that it is just as willing to use the coercive powers of the state to impose its views on fellow citizens as any Labour government...the National party does not object to Labour's use of government power but that it is Helen Clark doing it...the liberal says there are clear limits to government power. We do not believe the state should do for citizens what citizens can and should do for themselves...while we in ACT oppose Labour's social engineering we do not agree with the social conservatives in Parliament who also want to impose their view on society...the liberal does not fear new ideas. We liberals have great faith in the power of ideas..."

Well he said it better than I could. Who was he?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Avoiding the real issue

This is a post from Whale Oil Beef Hooked;

Here is another photo of some protestors at the National Party Conference. They are ACT supporters protesting because National isn’t rightwing enough.

So you walk down the street and you have ACT supporters protesting that National isn’t right wing enough and Labour supporters protesting that National is too right wing.

Numpties the lot of them.

Have those ACT-oids considered that National has in fact done them a favour by moving to the centre and giving them breathing room. The latest Roy Morgan Poll sould suggest that this is the case.

And here was me thinking that ACT supporters were supposed to be smart. Let me tell you it isn’t smart to piss off your potential coalition partners, it isn’t smart to criticise National for making room after they almost nailed your ass in the last election because of the move to the right.

Contrast that with the Maori party who go home each week and get on with being effective advocates for their constituency that elected them instead of poking borax at your mates.
For starters, Whale Oil, the Nats are not my 'mates'. I came from a Labour background but realised, somewhere along the way, that the state was making every problem it touched worse. Sometimes not immediately, but always in the long run.

So I rejected leftist ideology. Now, to my deep dismay, National are picking up most of what Labour has delivered during the last 9 years. Fundamentally the party has given no indication it understands or will do anything about what are the root causes of the dysfunction that deepens and widens in this country.

I'm not interested in licking National's bootstraps for political gain. Then I would be guilty of doing exactly what they have done in respect of Labour.

Our group was pointing out was that National have sold out on their stated principles of individual freedom, private enterprise and competition, and personal responsibility. The Nats and their supporters do not have an adequate response to this criticism so instead they turn the issue into one about political expediency, and those dumb 'ACT-oids' not staying in their place wagging their tails in gratitude.

Frankly I do not know how they have the gall to don the mantle of intellectual and moral superiority when NZ has never before witnessed so many political flip-flops and contradictions over such a short space of time.

And what better way to communicate to the public that ACT is very different from National than to protest at their conference?

Strange goings-on

Yesterday three ACT candidates and other supporters protested outside the National Conference in Wellington. Our problem? National = Labour. What happened to National's principles? We made a lot of noise, in part because we were competing with young Labour, protesting asset sales (well, there wasn't much else left was there?)

I think it was Peter McAffrey who made the astute observation that the situation was quite comical.

Outside is Young Labour pretending to be Nats - dressed in suits and wearing fake National rosettes - holding a asset auction...

....while inside is National pretending to be Labour to win enough votes to win the election.

It was a bizarre experience.

Labour - "Making a difference"

Here is a sublime example of Labour spin.

According to the Minister of Social Development Ruth Dyson;

“The number of people receiving the Sickness Benefit in March this year is 45,676; the lowest since July 2005, proving that our new approach is making a real difference."

In the years from 1997 - 2005 the average annual number of transfers from an sickness benefit to an invalid benefit was 4,910.(PQ 5886: 2005)

In the 12 months to June 2008 the figure was 8,328. (PQ 6614,15,18: 2008)

Yes. The 'new approach' is certainly making a difference.