Saturday, May 21, 2011

More bad bureaucracy proposed

Labour has announced the establishment of a Ministry for Children - if it gets elected. Labour's chances of getting re-elected are small. They are the equivalent of a 20 to 1 shot in a small field. So a comment on this proposal is probably redundant. But what the heck.

It seems traditionally that the left purport to do more and care more for children. They appear to premise this less on the obvious, that children deserve protection from those who break laws intended to protect their safety or well-being, than on the idea that children are a public good. A public investment.

CHILDREN ARE NOT A PUBLIC GOOD. They exist for themselves. They own their own lives. They are not utilities for state investment as potential revenue generators.

Their parents are their temporary guardians and bear temporary responsibility for them (albeit a non-legally binding mutual responsibility lasts between 'real' parents and children across a lifetime).

So NZ does not need a ministry to advocate, or special plead on the behalf of children. To propose as much is more state interventionism, more usurping of the parent's role.

But Labour knows that the mere mention of 'children' evokes a warm fuzzy especially amongst its female voters. Voters who want someone else to make bad stuff go away or at least act like they can and will.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Actually, sorry, I can't be bothered. Move on, move on, nothing to see here. 4 percent growth ???? Hahahahaha.

So I was nagging Dave Armstrong, standing in for Sean Plunket on NewstalkZB this morning, that local government - ratepayers - shouldn't be forced to fund artists. Art should stand or fall on its merits.

Lovely unintended result. Someone heard me, rang for a price. I referred them to my website to view works and they are coming on Monday to arrange a commission.

Some recent pastels:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Key keen on welfare reform...

...or at least talking (around 44:00) about it.

In the studio with Sean Plunket on NewstalkZB today, Key brought up the issue of welfare reform virtually unbidden. No, I didn't ring to pose a searching question, as I have in the past. He knows the statistics off by heart and referred to the WWG report, the recommendations of which he seems to want to take on board. And it isn't just about saving money says he. It's about the social implications of having 11 percent (12 actually) of working age people on a benefit and the lessons their children learn or don't learn about acquiring skills and being self-supporting. Spot on. That is the most important angle to approach it from. TICK.

No, it's not fair but you vote for it

Reported in NZ Herald today:

KiwiSaver worked well, he said "because the money comes out of your pay packet and once that happens, people don't give too much thought to it. They just carry on living to what they have and take home every week."

Just like PAYE. And the reason why it is so difficult to get some people excited about the issue of taxation.

Unless someone stirs the pot. Like in today's DomPost where Vernon Small runs with a Stuart Nash Labour MP assault on farmers and the tax they don't pay. Farmers, who create wealth, are compared to beneficiaries and superannuitants, who use up wealth. Farmers who are subject to seasonal, currency, market changes and fluctuating incomes; state dependents who are assured of a steady weekly income no matter what. And of course a whinging (almost certainly WFF recipient) two-child couple turns up: "It's not fair". I am only surprised they didn't continue with, "We are raising the next generation of taxpayers!"

If you want fair let's have flat tax. Let's have simplicity and transparency. Let's have less frigging government pitting one group against another for their own gain.

Monday, May 16, 2011

PM says ACT can't get 5 percent

Just listening to Mike Hosking interviewing John Key, and on the back of a Horizon Poll that shows ACT support up to 5.3 percent, Hosking asks the PM is ACT a 5 percent party? Key is emphatic. No. Then he attacks the poll.

I don't think he should be going down the road of attacking polls. Echoes of Clark. Polls have been his best friend. Sure the Horizon Poll may have its shortcomings but it is one in a parcel of polls which together tell the public what voters are thinking. He and people like David Beatson , can naysay the existence of people who want more reform than National will ever undertake, all they like. But they are not going away. And I stick by my prediction that ACT, under Brash, can poll up to 10 percent. I just wish a deal of it wasn't going to come from anti-Maori sentiment.

The robustness of Starship statistics and data in general

If the seemingly unimpeachable Starship hospital is going to use its admission statistics to lobby for legislation (which they are increasingly doing) they should ensure its consistency or provide additional descriptive information. Take these two examples for instance:

A leading authority on shaken baby syndrome says the level of child abuse in New Zealand is staggering, with nearly one child a week admitted to Auckland's Starship Hospital with serious physical injuries. Hospital data, released to the Herald on Sunday under the Official Information Act, shows that since 2001, 181 children have been hospitalised as a result of "suspected or definite" child abuse. July 2007.


"...the largest group of injuries treated at the Starship's intensive care unit were suffered by juvenile car passengers.

They accounted for 150 admissions in 11 years since 2000, ahead of 105 child pedestrians knocked down in streets and driveways, and 95 victims of domestic violence. May 2011."

Reconciling the two statements poses difficulty. 95 victims of domestic violence over 11 years is considerably less than 181 over 6 years. 8.6 per year versus 30 per year. The qualifying definitions may be different but that should be noted. One may relate to any admission while the other relates to admission to intensive care. Though I would have thought as Starship tends to the most serious injuries the difference wouldn't be that great.

Hospital statistics are vital because they represent actual incidents as opposed to reported or suspected events. However as the first statistic does contain the qualifier for the cause as, " suspected or definite", the second leads me to believe many of the susepected causes turn out to be unprovable or wrong.

The increasing tendency for Starship practitioners to lobby government however also casts doubt on the data they provide. It is natural for lobbyists to build their case with the most compelling picture. This may even result in conflict amongst the practitioners themselves. Especially if they were lobbying for extra resources. Not very helpful really. (Notwithstanding, this anomaly may just be a failure or omission by the journalist.) Additionally, if a problem being over-stated there is an accompanying tendency towards over-suspicion.

I can't remember where but I read about the suggestion or proposal that a neutral group should be formed to scrutinise statistical information. They exist in other jurisdictions? Perhaps it would need to be formed from unpaid, possibly retired folk with the necessary credentials.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kerre Woodham under siege

Last week Woodham told it like it is. Any one who sees with their naked eyes instead of through bleeding-heart lens' knows that her slamming of useless mothers who produce children as meal tickets is an accurate assessment of where a good deal of child abuse and neglect stems from.

Two detractors put up a response in this week's SST. I will address some of it:

"Kerre Woodham seems to have identified the culprits of our high levels of child abuse - 'dumb, stupid, needy, dysfunctional slappers [who] are failing at being mothers'.

She says they 'have children because they get paid to - and, let's face it, they wouldn't get paid to do anything else'.

Firstly, let's address the accusation that mothers alone are responsible for the potential abuse of their children.

Let's see what Kerre actually said:

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.

She also blames the hangers-on who hurt the children. Hateful hangers-on who are attracted to low self-esteem women with a steady income and a roof over their heads.

Back to the detractors:

These people, already suffering the effects of poverty and possibly cyclical family violence, need all our help to protect themselves and their families. Throwing abuse at them, calling them slappers, or sluts who 'don't know who their sperm donors are' is just perpetrating the abuse and prejudice they face on a daily basis.

We have no right to judge a woman for falling pregnant, or choosing to keep a child if she wishes to.

The writers imply an obligation on society and then deny any right to judge. I admire (judge) a woman who keeps her child but when she is doing it for the right reasons - not because the child is a source of income. And society has every right to judge when the action results in the requisition of public money, currently in very scant supply and unavailable for other 'needs'.

Secondly, it is incredibly worrying that the myth of women getting pregnant to get more DPB money is being trotted out yet again.

There is absolutely no evidence that this has ever been done. In fact, the amount of money one gets is a pittance, for which the woman has to go through nine months of pregnancy (including time off any work she might have) and undergo labour, all to gain another mouth to feed.

Now the writers are simply being wilfully ignorant. In the US and in Europe the theory that women have children, or more children, to access more money has been tested by comparing states or countries. The link between higher benefits and more children born outside of marriage or partnership is clear.

The money is not a "pittance" when including basic benefit and other allowances. The NZ Herald has repeatedly identified examples of DPB incomes that are too high to compete with paid work.

To fight the scourge of child abuse in our society we need to re-assess our attitude towards women and the poor.

Cutting funding to childcare services and the Women's Refuge has made things worse, particularly with the Rugby World Cup coming up (look up abuse statistics when the All Blacks lose if you don't understand this).

Oh, and cutting the Training Incentive Allowance wasn't particularly helpful; talk about shutting the door behind you. We need to reverse these moves and put support behind our vital social services.

Throwing ever increasing amounts at (sorry for the cliche) ambulances at the bottom of the cliff is never going to stop or stem the problem. And, the TIA was stopped because evidence showed people using it were tending to stay even longer on welfare. But I suppose the concept of career students would also be hotly disputed by this pair.

We need to take concrete steps, not have people like Kerre, from positions of relative comfort, complaining about how horrible poor people are.

This only denigrates these women further and allows a smug sense of self-satisfaction."

The final blows are fully intended to lay a guilt trip on Kerre so burdensome she will never repeat her opinion again.

Some people deserve denigration, their motivations and actions are so lacking in human empathy and devoid of any thought beyond immediate self-gratification. They need to know how other people view them or they will never change. Society, urged by the likes of these writers, is unable to prevent child abuse because it has been ordered to furnish the conditions that create it, through modern day ethical frameworks and social policy.

Indeed, this pair are contributing to the problem through their wishy-washy platitudinous apologism.