Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Brash letter - Taskfarce

What appalled me, and should disturb all National and John Key supporters, is Key's refusal to meet with Brash to discuss the Taskforce 2025 report. How many photo opportunities does Key enjoy, performing nice- to- do but not essential- to- do things? Yet he can't make time to discuss the Taskforce 2025 recommendations which are crucial to creating a NZ that is at least keeping up with Australia. By his ignorance, the PM has consigned it to being a Taskfarce.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Maori hurt most by youth rates?

The opening lines from a new US study into the employment consequences of minimum wages:

When the Great Recession’s negative effect on the U.S. labor market was strongest, the national unemployment rate stood at 10.1 percent—a depth last seen in June 1983. But the greatest amount of pain was felt by younger and more vulnerable workers—though not in equal amounts. For instance, the unemployment rate for 16-to-19 year-olds reached 27.1 percent at the recession’s trough. For white teens, the figure was 25 percent; for black teens, it was close to 50 percent.

New Zealand's current 15-19 year-old unemployment rate is 27.5 percent. Unfortunately the HLFS tables do not show the ethnic breakdown of each age group. There is a suggestion here that Maori youth unemployment is over 40 percent.

According to the Department of Labour the Maori Youth NEET (not in education, employment or training) rate is around 17 percent:

The difference between the two rates comes about because the DOL defines youth as 15-24, not 15-19, and the unemployment rate for 20-24 year-olds is much lower.

Anyway the point of this post is to highlight the findings of the study because what holds for US blacks probably has relevance for NZ Maori.

... the picture grows even more troubling when the authors focus just on the 21 states fully affected by the federal minimum wage increases in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Approximately 13,200 black young adults in these states lost their job as a direct result of the recession; 18,500 lost their job as a result of the federal wage mandate—nearly 40 percent more than the recession. In
other words, the consequences of the minimum wage for this subgroup were more harmful than the consequences of the recession.

The substantial disemployment effects that emerge from the data raise an important question: Why do black males suffer more harm from wage mandates than their white or Hispanic counterparts?

The authors find that they’re more likely to be employed in eat-ing and drinking places–nearly one out of three black young adults without a high school diploma works in the industry. Businesses in this industry generally have narrow profit margins and are more likely to be adversely impacted by a wage mandate. There’s also substantial variation in regional location, as black young adults are
overwhelmingly located in the South and in urban areas. It’s also likely that unobserved differences in skill level and job experience play a role. To the extent that these differences are concentrated among young men of a particular race or ethnicity, this group would have the greatest risk of losing jobs when the minimum wage is increased.

Minimum wage increases remain politically popular, which means they’ll continue to be debated at the state and federal level for years to come. But the debate on the employment consequences of the minimum wage has been settled conclusively, and this research proves that those consequences are felt most by young black males.

(Hat-tip NCPA)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Returned heads reminders of a brutal past

In an article about 16 Maori heads being returned to New Zealand from France the following appears:

Some Maori heads, with intricate tattoos, were traditionally kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But once Westerners began offering prized goods in exchange for them, men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos, French museum officials have said.

But that is only part of the story. Slaves were deliberately tattooed and beheaded when carved faces became a commodity. I can think of nothing more terrifying and barbaric. Undergoing the extreme pain of having one's face chiselled for reasons of rank and pride is one thing. Imagine experiencing the same agonising process in the knowledge that it is preceding your death. That is always my first thought when I hear about heads being repatriated. I struggle to understand why anyone wants a reminder of this brutal, exploitive practice.

One of the best things about the Treaty is that it effectively abolished slavery in Maoridom. The history of NZ Maori is a savage one. Peaceful tribes were obliterated or enslaved by stronger, more violent and acquisitive tribes. A recipe for a harsh, short-life society. The spiritualistic ceremonies that accompany the return of the remainders and reminders of such times are misplaced.

Maori, the island nation's indigenous people, believe their ancestors' remains should be respected in their home area without being disturbed.

Ironic as they weren't respected in life. Perhaps there is a healing and closure; an apologistic aspect to the process that evades me.

Monday, May 09, 2011

What makes some people vote

Yesterday I was having a lengthy conversation with a young man. He pops in to chat at my shop and tells me all sorts of interesting things about his job and day to day experiences. He is a very friendly, open, and hard-working individual. Generally I don't bring up politics with people. That is their prerogative. Suddenly he said, "You were a Green candidate weren't you?". See this comes about because people are vaguely aware that I was involved in elections but as the only other thing they know about me is that I am an artist, they assume I must be a leftie.No, I responded, I stood for ACT. Oh, Ok. Do you like John Key he asked. Yes, I replied. Then he got very enthusiastic. I do too he said. I don't care about how much tax I pay and all that other political stuff. I'm just not interested. But because I like people and I am a friendly person, and because it is really important to me, being friendly and people being friendly back, and that's what John Key is like, I really like him. I love it when I hear him on the radio making people laugh.

Now that is not a stupid reason to vote for someone. This young man has identified his most important value. And he looks for someone who mirrors that. I don't really know why but I found it fascinating witnessing how the Mr Nice Guy persona manifests in votes. And let's face it. There aren't that many people who are very interested in politics. I wasn't at his age either.

While it seems strange to me I need only examine my own attitude to sports. The names I hear about are vaguely familiar but I couldn't tell you whether a particular one waa a league player or netball star. When it comes to sports I tune out. But if I had to vote for a sports star it would be Tana Umaga because I met him and he was very nice and generous. And good looking.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

National's election platforms - welfare avoided again

Just heard on Radio Live News that the PM has announced National's election platforms for 2011 - the economy, education, health and law and order. And indeed, that is the case.

So why not the biggest chunk of government spending - social security? Leaving it for ACT?

But in this term and the last, ACT also abandoned welfare as a central issue. Roy was spokesperson from 2005-08 and Douglas thereafter. Neither raised public conciousness about welfare the way Newman had before.

The greatest potential area for NZ to reduce spending, as well as improve outcomes, is in welfare. But that market research stuff they do tells parties to avoid the issue as too electorally sensitive.

Back yourself Brash and go after it. In the early 2000s, while still Reserve Bank Governor, you were publicly critical of welfare. Your outspokeness in that role laid the base for much of your current support. National has done next to nothing in this term and NZ now trails other developed countries in the reform stakes. We cannot afford to.

My advice to Kerre Woodham (and myself on more than one occasion)

Kerre Woodham writes in today' SST:

Mother's Day is more a day for the children than it is for mums - all mums with healthy, beautiful children have a mother's day every day that their children stay safe and happy.

But this year - sorry to be a spoil sport - let's turn the spotlight on those mothers who are abject failures. All those mothers who haven't got a clue who their children's sperm donors were. All those mothers who have children because they get paid to - and, let's face it, they wouldn't get paid to do anything else. Those mothers who stay with men who hurt them and their kids because they're so pathetic and useless that any shag - even when it comes with a biff - is better than being alone.

This Mother's Day, I would plead that every mother who has had a child that they don't care about or can't cope with gets the help that they need....

I've been writing columns and banging on on talkback for more than 13 years about this and I am so, so sick of railing against the abomination that is child abuse in this country.

So this will be my last column on the subject. What I do is utterly futile.

Her emotion (or lack of it) is called burn out.

My advice to Kerre is don't stop writing but do start thinking about what policies need to change and be specific about what needs to happen. If you know that people have children because they are paid to, call for the end of such a policy. It is your money being used after all. If you think adoption is a better option, push for a change in CYF's attitude to adoption. How do you think it came about that NZ literally turned its back on the process? Vociferous, relentless, activism by feminists who believed that a child should always stay with its natural mother. How did it come about that we pay single women to have children? Feminist activism that deplored the nuclear family. Fight back and keep fighting. Not for a return to the past but for a new approach. Women today have so much more opportunity. They don't need these state crutches which if anything turn them into victims rather than empowered beings.

Take a breather and wait for the energy to return. It will.