Saturday, March 07, 2015

Little on-song for Nats

The Nats will be cheering for Labour Leader Andrew Little this morning. Trying to derail their Northland by-election campaign he tells the NZ Herald,

"That poll result last night would have been a massive wake-up call for National. If a candidate other than National wins then the Government is down a vote and can't ram through things like the Resource Management Act reforms."

This is exactly the message National has been promoting  to win the election.

Has Little no idea how unpopular the RMA is?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Housing NZ stock doesn't match the need

MSD has published data pertaining to Housing NZ stock and tenancies.

I've done some analysis:

- only 9 percent of properties are bedsits or one bedroom, but 29 percent of tenants are one person households. That means 12,829 tenants have a 'spare bedroom'.

- Almost 80 percent of the properties are 2  and 3 bedroom

- Almost two thirds of tenancies are to people aged 45 plus; just over a fifth are to Superannuitants. It would appear that a lot of people remain in 2 and 3 bedroom properties after their children have grown up.

- the most common type of tenant is one parent with children (33%). A state house tenant is more than  twice as likely to be a sole parent than a couple with children.

It's only common sense to adjust the stock to fit the need. That would solve a good deal of the low-income housing shortage. A couple of rough graphs showing 1/ the number of tenancies by number of bedrooms and 2/ the number of tenancies by age group

Another feature adding to 'homelessness' is the number of properties described as 'vacant' - 2,226 or 3.4% of the total (66,215).  Properties being sold or moved may need to stand vacant for a short period though my own  local observations are some properties stand vacant for months.

(State housing is just another form of income redistribution riddled with inefficiencies, bad incentives and injustices. But it isn't going away. Not under this government.)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wealth and IQ in NZ

The following is compiled from the well-known Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and applies to cohort members at age 38.

I was most surprised to see the IQ variable included.

"The childhood IQ model also explains a low amount of wealth variation: again less than 2%. But IQ is also statistically significant, with each extra IQ point gaining a person $5,600 more wealth at age 38."

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

If you believe in end- of- life choice, do something about it

This debate is going to get messy when people don't tell the truth.

Just recently TV3 reported:

Nearly half of Kiwi doctors are in favour of euthanasia, or physician-assisted dying (PAD), according to a survey covered in the New Zealand Medical Journal today.

Yesterday, a report appeared on Stuff which contained the following statement:

Feedback from NZMA members on the issue showed universal opposition to voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

If you favour voluntary euthanasia, and this kind of politicking frustrates you,  there is now something you can do about it.

Petition launched Thursday, 19 February 2015, 12:03 pm

Press Release: Voluntary Euthanasia Society Press Release from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NZ

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand has launched a petition urging Parliament to debate a law change that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their suffering. “Unfortunately, even with over 80 per cent of New Zealanders wanting legalisation, politicians still sit on their hands, agonising and arguing about much less important issues,” VESNZ President Dr Jack Havill, of Hamilton, said in a statement today (Thursday).

Dr Havill, a retired intensive care specialist, said: “The petition will give New Zealanders a chance to get the issues discussed before a select committee. The case is excellent and the public want an honest and informed discussion."

The petition was formally launched on the eve of Friday’s arrival of one of the world’s leading experts on voluntary euthanasia, Dutchman Dr Rob Jonquière, for a nationwide 19-day speaking tour. Dr Jonquière, who helped draft the pioneering Dutch euthanasia legislation, is Communications Director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which comprises 49 organisations committed to allowing people to make choices for a dignified death in 24 countries. He has been invited by VESNZ, which campaigns under the title End-of-Life Choice.

The petition reads: “The undersigned respectfully request that the New Zealand House of Representatives investigate fully the public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable."

Former Labour MP Maryan Street, who proposed a private member’s Bill for a law change in the last Parliament, said: “We want MPs to see that there is a great deal of public support for this bill. It is a compassionate and closely prescribed bill, applying only to New Zealand residents aged 18 or over who have terminal illnesses or conditions which make their lives, by their own definition, unbearable. “We would like the petition to be heard by the Health select committee. It could prepare the way for an MP to put the End-of-Life Choice Bill back in the ballot. At the very least, it would present MPs with the opportunity to hear from a range of people about this important and enduring issue."

 This is where you need to go to  download the petition form to sign and/or collect other signatures. I'll be doing both.

Show us the "systemic discrimination"

A recent Amnesty International report made the following observation about New Zealand:

The 2013 Technical report on Child Poverty found that 27% of New Zealand children remained in poverty. Maori and Pacific island children were disproportionately represented in child poverty statistics, highlighting systemic discrimination.

Really? Which system is discriminating against Maori and Pacific Island children?

With free GP visits and prescriptions – recently extended to all under 13′s – it’s not the health system. With community service cards and medical centres like the  Petone Union Health Centre which provides “comprehensive primary health services to Maori, Pacific, Refugee and low income families”  free to patients 18 and under, the case could be made that Maori and Pacific Island children are the subject of positive discrimination though that is unlikely what Amnesty International intended. Immunisation rates are steadily increasing (PI rates are now higher than NZ European). School nurses are a feature in low decile schools and of course, whanau ora services are specifically aimed at improving the health of Maori families. Oral health services are free to all children and adolescents. Maternity services are targeted at low income vulnerable mothers-to-be dominated by Maori and Pacific Island females.

Is it the education system they refer to?  The targeted funding to low decile schools is well-known. Charter schools are being established in some of the poorest neighbourhoods to meet the challenge of the under-achieving tail. Free hours of early childhood education have been steadily  expanded.  Again a case could be made for positive discrimination as opposed to negative.

Perhaps Amnesty International meant that the labour market discriminates against Maori and Pacific Island and, by proxy, their children. Yet it is unavoidable that low or no educational qualifications will predict future employability. Which takes us back to the education system that, as alluded to earlier, has, for the most recent decades, operated in a manner that exercises positive rather than negative discrimination towards ethnic minorities. Targeted funding of  low income schools is synonymous with targeted funding of Maori and Pasifika.

Is the social assistance system stacked against them? Are Maori and Pacific Island children being denied benefits that NZ European children access? Again, the opposite is nearer the truth. Maori children, in particular, disproportionately receive social assistance, especially by way of  Sole Parent Support.

A recent New Zealand Statistics report into the employment rates of NZ females featured the following graph:
It reveals that 40 percent of Maori mothers, and 29 percent of Pacific Island mothers  are unpartnered. This has a direct bearing on child poverty.

The official source of child poverty statistics is the Household Incomes Report published by the Ministry of Social Development. It finds:

 …the poverty rate for children in sole-parent families living on their own is high at 60%…the poverty rate for children in two-parent families is much lower at 14%…

Is there some systemic discriminatory force that prevents Maori and Pacific Island parents from forming stable partnerships?

I don’t know what it is.

There is validity to the theory that welfare benefits have undermined marriage. If the state is prepared to financially replace fathers, especially low income fathers, then there will be inevitable repercussions. When the universal, non-means-tested  family benefit – paid directly to mothers – was  introduced in the 1940s, Maori marriage rates climbed. Only married mothers qualified to receive them.

In The New Zealand family from 1946, Treasury comments:

Legal marriage is now less common among Maori than among non-Maori …The estimates for people aged 60 and over are, however, an exception. Maori in this age group—who would have been entering the main marriage ages during the baby boom—appear to have just as high a probability of ever marrying as other New Zealanders of the same age. Maori in earlier periods had not seen any great need to ask non-Maori officials to provide legal sanction for their marriages (Pool 1991: 109) so the baby boom may well have been the high water mark for legal marriage among Maori.

After the 1973 Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) guaranteed eligibility to a relatively generous benefits for single parents regardless of the reason for their circumstance,  the Maori marriage rate plummeted.

Welfare had a more devastating effect on Maori families because their incomes were lower and Maori men couldn’t compete with the DPB as easily. Pacific Island  families have withstood the sole- parent- subsidisation assault better due to other cultural and Christian traditions which uphold and protect  marriage and intact families. Even Pacific Island single mums are more likely to reside with their extended family.

But again, the welfare system didn’t discriminate against Maori and Pacific Island children. It sought to relieve their poverty by replacing incomes lost to unemployment or a missing partner. That it achieved the opposite – grew the incidence of relative poverty -  is an appalling result.

Amnesty International makes pronouncements about every country in the world (in this particular report, 160 countries) but cannot intimately understand the development of child poverty locally. The only purpose this report serves is to provide headline fodder for the political Left.

Consequently this sort of claim soon has the silent majority’s eyes glazing over. It reads like a statement about minority rights in the 1930s or earlier. It doesn’t reflect the reality of New Zealand in 2015.

(Published at NZCPR, March 1)

Monday, March 02, 2015

One government agency sues another

According to the NZ Herald:
WorkSafe has filed a charge against the Ministry of Social Development following the Ashburton Work and Income shootings last September.
The charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act alleges the ministry failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.
The mind boggles over what future "practicable" steps will entail.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

"Honestly, Mum, chances are he WON'T stay with you."

Jack Tame reports from New York:

For a while, subway cars were plastered end-to-end with photos of crying babies and the line: "Honestly, Mum, chances are he WON'T stay with you."
That one was an ad for family planning services. What cheerier way to start the morning commute?
Now that's the sort of ad MSD/WINZ should be funding and running in New Zealand trains and buses. (I was going to say on the backs of buses but the targeted demographic is more likely to be inside. Then again best put them everywhere lest the politically correct take offence.)

Strictly speaking the odds are with the mother in the first year. But with one in five NZ babies ending up on welfare - usually Sole Parent Support - by the end of their birth year, the chances he won't stay are pretty high. And they increase with time.

 According to the Families Commission, nearly one in two mothers in New Zealand will experience solo parenthood and up to 40 per cent of children will live in a sole-parent family for a period of time.
And if you don't believe the poor need targeting have a look at this just-published report from the Brookings Institute:

 A poor woman is about five times as likely as an affluent woman to have an unintended birth, which further deepens the divides in income, family stability, and child outcomes.

Quote of the Day

How many kings have abdicated their thrones after becoming convinced that monarchy did not truly serve the downtrodden masses? Will politicians cede power after social scientists document how their favorite programs do more harm than good?
- James Bovard, "The Absurdity of 'Reform' in DC" [February 13, 2015]

(Hat tip FFF)