Saturday, August 09, 2014

Example of Metiria Turei being untruthful

Earlier today I referred to Metiria Turei "making stuff up" but there is no transcript or recording of last night's debate available. On two occasions I remember saying out loud, That's not true.

The Standard has helpfully summarised the debate between Paula Bennett and Metiria Turei and included this comment:
Bennett did the line about less teenagers giving birth and taking some credit for it. Turei said that trend started before the Nats came into government.
Here is the teenage (15-19) birth rate per 1,000 females over the past 20 years. The data comes from Statistics NZ Infoshare.The trend changed from  2008:

Bennett versus Turei on Prime last night

Did anyone watch Paula Bennett face off with Metiria Turei last night on Sean Plunket's new Prime TV show?

Paula can smile with eyes that are steely. She is the one that has had to do all the often thankless reform work over the past
six years; handle all the obnoxious personal critcisms. And having to put up with the smug, only-ever-been-in-opposition Metiria Turei at times making stuff up, brought out a display of the dour determination Bennett has needed.

Bennett won on the strength of evidence and strength of character.

But also of note, on Left side was Alan Johnson who is researcher for the Salvation Army Social Policy Unit. He conceded that the youth reforms have made a real difference to the numbers of teen parents and youth on a benefit.

This is hugely significant. After I really began to grasp welfare statistics, I realised that stopping the teenage inflow was crucial. That is what Bennett has started to achieve.

Metiria wasn't buying the youth reforms. Doesn't like the micromanagement,  reciprocal obligations, sanctions and money management. Still wants an unconditional ride with higher payment rates. I pray she gets nowhere near cabinet, ever.

Pregnancy subsidies grossly under-estimated

According to the NZ Herald:
Pregnant women would get free dental care, doctors' visits and prescriptions under a Labour Government in a plan to be unveiled at the party's campaign launch.The Weekend Herald understands a primary healthcare package for pregnant women costing just over $10 million will be one of two policy announcements on the day...
The Weekend Herald understands free dental healthcare for mothers would cost about $5 million a year, free GP visits about $4 million and free prescriptions about $1 million.
Based on 62,000 annual births (5 year average to 2013) that would allow $80 per mother for dental care.

But what about the mothers who are pregnant but then have an abortion or miscarry?  There are some 14,000 abortions annually. For the period that the female is pregnant she too will qualify for the pregnancy subsidies. And

Estimates suggest that 10-20% of confirmed pregnancies result in miscarriage

So the number of pregnant women swells again to around 90,000 annually.

So let's look at the estimate for their free prescriptions, the subsidy most likely to be taken up across all pregnancies.

$1 million for 90,000 females  averages at $11.11 each. Free GP estimate allows for $44.44 each. That's one visit.

Give me a break. Even if these estimates are additional to some existing care, they are peanuts.

Oh, and forgive me for my cynicism, but free dental care provides a rather significant incentive to get pregnant. Maybe not to stay pregnant though.

And consider for a moment debt-ridden dentists. Remember what happened when ACC allowed physiotherapists to provide up to 12 'free' sessions to people ACC clients?

The most important things expectant mothers should do are give up smoking, stop using drugs, strictly contain alcohol intake, and eat well.

Personal responsibility. It isn't society's responsibility to pay for and prioritise the foetus. It is the mothers. Because only she can guarantee it will happen.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Is our justice system too soft?

There have been a number of cases recently that seem to have remarkable outcomes. An obvious contender yesterday was the discharge without conviction of the teenager who beat-up Stephen Dudley, who subsequently died.

But that's not the one that caught my attention today.

A woman in the Waikato  stole over $90,000 from her employer.

Richard Annandale, prosecutor for the Department of Internal Affairs, said a feature that loomed large was the degree of trust placed in Hamilton...
Hamilton's lawyer, Eilidh Hook, said her client was very remorseful for her actions, had already paid $10,000 reparation to the court and was prepared to pay the remainder with a cleaning job that paid $240 per week.
Hamilton, who has a young child with her partner, initially had no intention of stealing the money.
It was simply "in front of her and it became a habit that she could not turn down", Hook said.
She asked for a sentence of community detention and community work so Hamilton could continue her part-time cleaning. But the judge declined to do that, given the gravity of the offending.
He also said he felt uneasy about having Hamilton left repaying such a large amount of money over such a long period of time, so ordered that she repay a total of $30,000 to Gittings. Given the fact she is pregnant and a first offender, Macdonald said a home detention sentence was appropriate.

FELT UNEASY. What the heck does that mean? Did he feel uneasy about the effect the crime had on the business owner? Did he feel uneasy about the message this woman sends to other employers about trust?

She only has to repay a third of what she stole. That's a tidy profit.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said bar owner Bernard Gittings has received a "double slap in the face".
Perry said not only was Gittings ripped off by employee Jane Hamilton but also he's only going to recoup one-third of the $90,000 stolen from his business.
"First of all the businessperson suffers and then the person doesn't get fair retribution. That just seems like a double slap in the face for him. Doesn't it look like crime pays?"
Perry said she had been shocked by the amount of fraud hitting Waikato businesses in recent times. Even more disturbing was the fact that most was committed by women, she said.

No wonder. The consequences  are soft.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Some sympathy for Guy McCallum

I don't know him, haven't talked with him. But I get where Guy is coming from. When Jamie Whyte said he "...had no interest in Maori bashing as a political game" I was relieved because the issue of race and privilege is  highly misunderstood and misrepresented. And it attracts genuine racists.

However, I agree with the principle of one law for all. In our relatively recent history Maori did not enjoy that status (eg shut out of or paid a pension at a lower rate.) So some latter day affirmative action could be perceived as justified. Whether that has been successful or should be continued needs to be talked about. Whether separate Maori courts, and health and social services are better than non-Maori should be up for debate.

When a political figure - intentionally or otherwise - starts people grumbling and rumbling, on either side of the fence, a defensive element wants to shut them down (Devoy). Another wants to inflame controversy by crying "bashers"and "racists" (the media). Others want to have their say (the public).

Guy doesn't want to be on the team that looks the way most of the anti-ACT media paints them. And he doesn't like the cynicism of stunts. But all politicians pull stunts in campaigns. I created a series of signs detailing Labour's multiple misuses of taxpayer money and erecting them illegally along the Esplanade during peak hour traffic. People still remember them.

Yesterday a friend who is fairly non-political asked me, "You were ACT weren't you?".

She went on to try and describe what Jamie Whyte was saying and how she thought he was right and brave. A friend of hers, who does accounts at a school with a Maori immersion unit, is very put out about the disparities in funding and resources. "People are concerned about this sort of stuff," she went on. And she wanted to know how to use her vote to make it a vote for Jamie.

So sometimes Guy, political candidates just have to suck it up. The media is not there to perform a policy education service. They will always seek to create controversy.

But potential ACT voters won't be told what to think by the media any more than they will be told what to think by the candidate. They know what they think. They are just waiting for a candidate who verbalises it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Motivating the unemployed

Regarding the $3,000 payment to move to a job in Christchurch, the Southland Times reports:

Ministry of Social Development figures show 157 people throughout the country had so far made the move, with most coming from the southern, Nelson, Wellington and Bay of Plenty regions. There had been 24 from Southland.
The southern area includes Balclutha, Dunedin, Invercargill, Oamaru and Timaru.
As of this week none of the 157 had reapplied for a benefit.

Four months ago, when the policy was announced:

The Government is providing further support for the Canterbury rebuild with $3.5 million of new operating funding for 2014/15 in Budget 2014 to assist beneficiaries to take up work in Christchurch.
“We’re offering up to 1,000 beneficiaries a one-off payment of $3,000 each if they have a full-time job offer in Canterbury and are ready and willing to move there,” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.
“The rebuild is creating thousands of jobs in Christchurch, and there are people around New Zealand ready to take them up, but who don’t currently have the means to get there.

According to MSD at the end of June 2014:
  • 121,131 working-age people were receiving Jobseeker Support. 
0.13 percent have taken up the offer.

What does this say about the motivation of unemployed people who the Left repeatedly insist "want to work"?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Jamie Whyte and whanau ora

The clobbering machine is out on Jamie Whyte for not knowing what whanau ora is.

The NZ Herald reports:

 Act leader Jamie Whyte's been caught short once again - this time clueless about Whanau Ora.

I bet you most New Zealanders couldn't tell you what whanau ora is.

Annette King, then Labour's social services spokeswoman, described it as 'blancmange' because "when you try to get a grasp of it, it slips through your fingers."

Here's a challenge. Summarise the following diagrammatic representation of whanau ora in a sound bite.


All whanau ora does it transfer funds to Maori service providers, a process that occurred before it became known as whanau ora. But there has been a concerted effort to dress it up as a hugely significant development for political reasons. Ask what the Maori Party's great legacy is as we run up to the election and the answer will undoubtedly be whanau ora.

Once more I am pleased and relieved to hear a political candidate being honest. Makes a welcome change to bluster and bluff or evasion.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Is there a Christian consensus on child poverty?

Scoop has a notice about a child poverty forum tomorrow evening in Wellington:

Forum on Child Poverty
The extent to which Aotearoa New Zealand turns a blind eye to children who suffer the effects of economic deprivation is the extent to which we fail to live up to our claim of being a just and caring society.
A forum on child poverty on 5 August will look at this political issue that is set to become key in the parliamentary elections on 20 September.
Living up to their prophetic calling, the two religious leaders of the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Bishop Justin Duckworth and Archbishop John Dew, have taken the initiative to bring together a panel of leaders and leading figures of all the major political parties in our country.
This may be one of the few times such an event will take place during the present election campaign.
Neither Bishop Justin nor Archbishop John wishes to dictate how people should vote. But they are calling on people to vote responsibly and for political leaders to clearly state where they stand in regard to the various issues that demand clear and decisive political action.
Among those issues, and a matter of crucial concern at this time, is the right of all children to adequate nutrition, proper housing, good education and a happy and healthy family lifestyle.
Speakers include Attorney General Chris Finlayson (National), David Cunliffe (Labour), Peter Dunne (United Future), Hone Harawira (Mana), Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori co-leader), Jan Logie (Green) and Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First) .
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills will be the first to address the forum. Then the Anglican Bishop Justin Duckworth and the Catholic Archbishop John Dew will highlight the Christian perspectives on child poverty.
The event will end with a Young Voter Forum from 8.15 to 9.30pm.
The forum is in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on Tuesday, 5 August. Snacks and drinks will be provided at 5.45pm and there will be a formal welcome at 6.30pm.

Are there no Christians who believe in individual responsibility? Who don't think that child poverty remedies automatically involve, "... clear and decisive political action." Are there any Christians who suspect welfarism has created more child poverty than it has solved? Do these guys really speak for all Christians?

The churches increasing preference for and advocacy of state solutions is very depressing.

Rating National's welfare reforms B -

This is a rating from best to worst :

1/ Thousands fewer teenage parents on benefits

How much this is an effect of the welfare reforms is impossible to gauge without some sort of qualitative research. The teenage birth rate has dropped and as virtually all single teen parents go on welfare, the dependency levels have consequently fallen. A teenage birth is so often the beginning of a severely disadvantaged life for the mother, the child and the subsequent children that inevitably follow in quick succession. This fall will show social dividends in the coming decades. And that it is happening across all ethnicities is especially notable.


2/ Fewer sole parents on benefits

The work obligations on now stronger than they were under Labour. The number of sole parents has dropped  by 11% since June 2009. But the work-testing is still too soft. In reality a parent can work as few hours as 12 a week from when her youngest goes to school until he or she is 14. And most importantly, if there are no work opportunities, too often the case in small towns, the work obligations are meaningless.

June 2009 83,387
June 2014 74,027

(These numbers are considerably lower than under the DPB system because sole parents with children 14 and older were moved to JobSeeker, and DPB carers of infirm people were moved to Supported Living.)

3/ Introduction of payment cards and money management

This may be an important factor in reducing the incentive to rely on welfare as a teenager. The regime can now be rolled out amongst older beneficiaries who are, for example, failing to provide for their children.

4/ Annual reapplication for the dole  has seen people 'disappear' off roll

Thousands fewer people receive the dole after the government introduced a requirement to reapply annually in 2011.

5/ Removal of the sickness benefit.

There is now only Jobseeker or Supported Living benefits. Permanently incapacitated rely on the latter. Temporarily incapacitated go on the Jobseeker benefit.This increases the focus on getting temporarily incapacitated people well and employable.

6/ Partners of people who defraud WINZ are now liable

Much of the benefit fraud is by 'single' parents who have  a partner. Welfare has made young, single mums vulnerable to spongers looking for a free ride. The ability to prosecute them might make a difference, although these predators are often law breaking, risk takers by nature. Too soon to tell

7/ Future liability has reduced slightly

Because the numbers of young and sole parents have reduced, and they typically have long stays on welfare, future liability has reduced.

8/ Existing long-term dependence has not improved

Most governments can chip away at the margins which feature employable people affected mainly by economic circumstances. Making inroads into long-term reliance on welfare is a much tougher ask.

At December 2013 143,000 people had been continuously on welfare for more than 4 years; 63,000 for more than ten years. These numbers are higher than when National became government. In December 2008 the respective numbers were 124,000 and 62,000.

9/ The Supported Living payment (ex Invalid Benefit) is continuing to attract transfers from other benefits

This continues to baffle researchers:

 A higher than expected rate of transfer to Supported Living Payment is also occurring from both Jobseeker – HCID and Sole Parents.
Back in the 1960s only around 1 percent of the population was 'permanently' incapacitated. That now stands at around 3%

Supported Living Payment population reciept

10/ Children are being added to an existing benefit at an even greater rate than pre-reform

The policy intended to reduce this habit has failed. Individuals - especially Maori - continue to have babies when they are already unemployed and without any independent means to raise their children. In the six months ending March 31, 2006, 5854 children aged under one were added to a benefit. In the same period prior to March 2014 the number increased to 6634 - a 13% rise.

If you were to grade National, what would you give it?

Don Brash described the reforms as "a useful start". I thik that is quite apt. On the basis that much more is planned I'll give them a B-.