Friday, September 20, 2013

The Dutch put on notice

Thanks to Eternal Vigilance for drawing my attention to this development now being reported extensively.

Holland’s new king Willem-Alexander today declared the end of the welfare state in a nationally-televised annual address.
The king, who is at 46 the youngest monarch in Europe, said a new 'participation society' would take its place, in which people must save and invest to create their own social safety net with less help from the national government.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

F&P win preferred supplier contract to beneficiaries

This is an interesting development:

Paula Bennett

18 September, 2013

Whiteware initiative good deal for beneficiaries and taxpayers

The Government has finalised a whiteware purchasing agreement which will provide a good deal for both beneficiaries and taxpayers.
“In this year’s Budget I announced we would work to get better value for beneficiaries and taxpayers in the way we help people purchase fridges, freezers and washing machines,” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.
Hardship grants are available to beneficiaries and people on low incomes to purchase whiteware products. These grants have to be repaid.
Over $10.5 million was spent over the last year in assistance for these purchases, however second-hand products are commonly bought which can ultimately cost hundreds of dollars extra in repair and maintenance costs, increasing debt for beneficiaries.
Whiteware will be provided under the Haier brand, by Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd, the sole distributor of the brand in New Zealand.
The initiative will see the Ministry of Social Development enter into a preferred supplier agreement with Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd. Beneficiaries will continue to apply for hardship assistance and if they qualify, will be provided with a high quality appliance which they will repay MSD for.
MSD are anticipating the arrangement will result in a $10 million reduction in hardship assistance for whiteware over five years.
“For people on low incomes, paying to get the fridge or washing machine fixed can often mean going without other essentials,” Mrs Bennett said.

It is estimated the new units will cost around the same as an average second-hand unit to buy, but maintenance costs over five years will be more than halved.
“We are ensuring people needing whiteware products are able to buy a quality, reliable product, which will come with at least a two-year warranty.”
“Fisher & Paykel is a company well trusted in New Zealand, and along with a strong distribution network already in place, also operate a 24/7 customer support service.”
“This means beneficiaries purchasing whiteware through the arrangement can have confidence in the product they’re buying.”
The rollout will begin in the South Island later this month, with the whole country covered by early next year.
As part of this agreement MSD and Fisher & Paykel are also working together to identify employment opportunities in the company for beneficiaries, another positive outcome of awarding the contract to a single supplier.

 Some observations:

This is good news for beneficiaries. But if F&P is giving a preferential price, someone else is paying for it. That'll be other F&P customers.

Certainly it's very bad news for second-hand dealers who are already struggling to compete with Trade Me.

A "good deal for taxpayers?" If the grants are repayable I can't see why. It should be neutral to the taxpayer.  Unless the debt is not being repaid. The more likely issue.

A good marketing/ PR move for F & P? You tell me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Left attacking Maori

Mike Hosking interviewed  (1.25) Raewyn Tipene this morning. She has one of the contracts to establish a charter school in the North and already has a track record of success with Maori children. Hosking asked how she felt about the PPTA response to charter schools and she said she hadn't read their releases having been forewarned by her admin manager that they are "bullying and threatening." That's the exact culture this school wants to avoid. Asked how she felt about the possibility Labour would close them if they win the election next year she was stoic. She said that Maori  could not afford to live in fear of what might happen. She's quite an inspiration.

So this is a whole new ball game. The Left aggressively attacking initiatives aimed at improving the prospects of Maori children. Even threatening to isolate and ostracise them by, for instance , not playing sport with them. Pathetic.

I wonder what Shane Jones makes of it?

Great predictive quote about prohibition

It is an established fact that alcoholism, cocainism, and morphinism are deadly enemies of life, of health, and of the capacity for work and enjoyment; and a utilitarian must therefore consider them as vices. But this is far from demonstrating that the authorities must interpose to suppress these vices by commercial prohibitions, nor is it by any means evident that such intervention on the part of the government is really capable of suppressing them or that, even if this end could be attained, it might not therewith open up a Pandora's box of other dangers, no less mischievous than alcoholism and morphinism.
- Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism [1927]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cunliffe calling it wrong already

My gut feeling is the public supports charter schools. That's because they need no persuading  public schools are failing a good percentage of pupils. That's not to say the teachers in particular are at fault; the curriculum; the parents or the pupils themselves. It'll be a combination of all of these factors in different measures.

But there can be little doubt that an alternative approach must be worth a go. At this stage it's only 5 schools, a few hundred pupils. I hope desperately that those given the contracts will give it their very best.

After hearing Larry Williams interviewing the PPTA vice president tonight (a must-listen) and then listening to the outraged, contemptuous reactions to her bombarding Larry's in-box I am further convinced people want this policy to get a fair go.

It's no surprise that the Greens are threatening to undo it at first opportunity. But Cunliffe is also saying he would exclude charter schools because they are "barking mad".

To echo Mr Cunliffe's expression, that "sucks". It's a bad call. It's negative. It's anti-opportunity and anti-working class (to use Labour's descriptor) families that have previously had no option but same old state offering.

That old Strawbs song just popped into my head, "You don't get me I'm part of the Union".

No, I don't get you.

(Hat-tip to Cam Slater for supplying the link)

"Holes in safety net grow larger"

Nobody will have borrowed Margaret McClure's book, A Civilised Community: A History of Social Security in New Zealand 1898-1998, from the Lower Hutt library more than me.

Throughout there are hints of bias. No problem. I'm biased too. But today's column in the NZ Herald really showcases her left-leaning worldview.

But before you read her column go here first and look at table OT.3.

Then think about the title of her piece,

Holes in safety net grow larger


Yet despite those growing holes, the net manages to catch ever greater numbers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why assume suicide is always about depression?

Stuff has an article today about the increasing suicide rate amongst baby boomers:

Marie Hull-Brown, a mental health promoter at the Mental Health Foundation, said the figures were distressing but "not surprising".
"Seeing friends die, family moving away and one's home becoming increasingly hard to maintain are losses that are hard to bear, and older people may become depressed about their ability to manage alone, yet not want to see their GP about the black dog that sits on their shoulder."
Conwell said there needed to be improved detection and treatment of depression in older adults, social programmes to reach out to isolated seniors, and access to good health care that allowed them to remain as independent as possible.
If you or someone you know is feeling depressed contact the following services, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless otherwise specified.

Some information about exactly why individual elderly people commit suicide would be useful. How many have been diagnosed with some illness they simply do not want to face or put their families through? This generation, more than any prior, favours voluntary euthanasia. Perhaps because it is more secular. Perhaps because baby-boomers have enjoyed more control over their lives and destinations than previous generations. Without that facility I am certain more people are taking action themselves.

In any case I can't see that suicide - causes and prevention - should be treated generically across vastly different age groups. A young person suiciding is likely avoiding life. An ageing person suiciding is quite possibly avoiding death - a long, painful or undignified death that is.