Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Draconian" approach will have a cost

The clamp down on public gatherings for the purposes of entertainment is becoming more and more of a problem. Just last month I blogged about the heavily-policed fiasco that Martinborough food festival has become. The latest comes in the form of the Kurow races, an event that has probably been held for more than a century and I imagine is akin to Tauherenikau on News Years Day, a benign but happy family picnic occasion.

New alcohol rules imposed on the Kumara Nuggets race meeting on January 14 have resulted in a sting in the tail for punters.
The Kumara Racing Club has been required to have 22 private security guards on course, instead of five, and that has pushed up the entry fee from $10 to $15.
The club applied to the Westland District Council in early October for the liquor licence, only to be met with a barrage of new requirements from health authorities, which created a "a lot of uncertainty" around being able to run the meeting next month, committee member Les Guenole said today.
The club had previously been planning to have alcohol-free areas but was instead told to hire more security guards, and was prevented from being able to advertise the meeting as BYO...
In a statement, Westland Mayor Bruce Smith criticised the hoops the Kumara Racing Club had to go.
"Crown (Public) Health, council and the police all became involved and unrealistic restrictions were requested by these parties based on what they say is legislation," Mr Smith said...
It was a turnaround for an event which was described this year by the West Coast police in the local media as "being well run with very few problems".
Being now required to increase security numbers, along with ordinary police presence was "a draconian step," Mr Smith said.

And that is the kicker. In the usual lazy and unjust bureaucratic modus operandi, all events are being punished because some become unruly - or draw a few individuals who are anti-social.

This blanket approach will have a cost. Not just economic.

I heard a brief item on the news yesterday that police were upset with people setting up Facebook pages to alert drivers to the whereabouts of alcohol check points.

The police are losing public support. If they treat us en masse like bad guys then they can expect a reaction.

Earlier this year I heard a second hand report of a police man being very fair to a young individual who he could clearly see broke the law by making a forgetful error. The officer exercised his judgement and did not throw the book at him.

Events should be treated similarly. Authorities could and should exercise some reasoned judgement and discretion.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Inculcating students and selling books

Two professors wrote a book called Urban poverty, penal welfare and health inequalities.

Here is a brief precis. I note,

"New Zealand’s once-humanitarian welfare system genuinely supported those in need, says Professor Darrin Hodgetts."

The thrust of the book is that welfare has become punitive and demeans those who need it.

The welfare system the professor refers to can only be that established in the late 1930s for the very reason that there was little support for the needy prior.

From that time until the 1960-70s it was impossible to get a sickness or invalid benefit if you could not prove you were of good moral character and had not been the active cause of your own misfortune. Specifically, "That incapacity for work was not self—induced or in any way brought about with a view to qualifying for an invalid's benefit."

You could not get a deserted wife benefit if you didn't apply for maintenance from the father of your children. Unmarried mothers frequently felt they had little choice but to give up their child for adoption.

Is this the "once-humanitarian" welfare system referred to?

Or was it the period before the early nineties when sole parents piled onto welfare at an astounding rate. So astounding that after only 2 years of the DPB, a ministerial inquiry was being called.

 As a result a stand-down period was established and marriage guidance counselling made effectively compulsory. Solo mothers protested. Is that the "once-humanitarian welfare system" referred to?

It can't be the system post early-1990s because that's after the benefits cuts -  the neoliberal policies that the book attacks - along with the current welfare system, those who designed the policies and deliver the services.

I don't believe the "once-humanitarian welfare system" ever existed. But that's not the point. That's just my opinion.

The point is this new book is required reading in course work (along with a plethora of other leftist claptrap).

No doubt the publishers were also well aware of guaranteed sales when accepting the manuscript.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Quote of the Day

 “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.” 

Thomas Sowell (apparently retiring from writing his syndicated column aged 86. His brief farewell is also well worth a read.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ethnic variation of people not in labour force

Just before Xmas Stats NZ released a report about people not in the labour force. The graph that caught my eye is below:

At  a glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Europeans are spending a lot of time playing around while Maori, Pacific and Asian people spend a lot of time studying.

The explanation for the divergence is provided:

This difference for the European ethnic group can be attributed to its different age structure when compared with the other ethnic groups. The median age of the European people not in the labour force was 66 years in the September 2016 quarter. In contrast, the median age was 30 years for Pacific peoples, 32 years for Māori, and 33 years for the Asian ethnic group. If we restrict the population to only look at those aged under 65 years, then study or training is the most-common main activity, and looking after a child is the second most-common main activity for all four of the ethnic groups looked at.
The median age of European people not in the labour force is double - or more than double - that of the next three largest ethnic groups.

Astonishing variation, but when you think about it, not that surprising. The European dominance of the baby boomer ranks and older accounts for this large anomaly.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Life's ups and downs (Updated)

It hasn't been the happiest few weeks. We watched our beloved beagle Lexie slowly deteriorate with a suspected brain tumour and eventually had to let her go. RIP in the garden.

So last night provided some much-needed fun and excitement when the first horse I have ever had a share in, Everything, lined up at Alexandra Park. Having its first start (third in its career) since I have been involved in the syndicate, see what happens:

Update: Today (28th) Everything had his first start on a grass track. Out from the widest front-line draw and then broke a boring pole and had it flapping down in front of his knees for most of the journey. But he was unperturbed and again, won effortlessly. Unfortunately the bookies had him pegged this time and he went out hot favourite. Too short for me and I only took him in a quaddie and trifectas. I thought after the race, damn, I didn't make any money outright. Then I remembered -  I now get a share of the stake winnings!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When public assistance creates poverty

A reader (?) sent a paper from Cato which essentially argues that beyond a certain level, public assistance creates poverty. That coincides with what I have long believed and tried to show. Behavioural responses that are self-destructive either individually and/or family-wise will undermine the worthy goals of alleviating need.

Here are a couple of the tables from the paper.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

It's true has yet another example of how the US child care and protection authorities are horribly overreacting.

A mom, dad, and their preschooler went to Home Depot in Valley Stream, Long Island, last Saturday to get some Christmas lights. The boy fell asleep in the car, so the parents cracked open the sun roof and let him snooze while they ran their errand. A passerby saw the boy and called 911 to report a child in a car, "unconscious."
When the parents came out about 20 minutes later (the lights had been hard to find), they found a huge commotion at their car. Cops! Firemen! An ambulance! A fireman had smashed open their rear passenger window and was extricating their son as if the car was on fire.
Then, rather than seeing that the boy was startled but fine, the safety kabuki began.
I was just thinking, there is no way I would leave a child sleeping in  a car for twenty minutes when  I read the following:

"Now, maybe you wouldn't let your child wait in the car for 20 minutes. But chances are that your parents did that with you, because this was once universally acceptable."
It's true. As children we were always left in the car when my mother did the supermarket shopping. She would not have dreamed of dragging us around with her. And she was a teacher.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another example of academic reconstructionism

The DomPost today ran a piece which is part of a series entitled, "Private Business, Public Failure: Inside Our Prisons".

Something caught my eye and got the BS detector buzzing:

Dear Editor,

'Incarceration Nation' (DomPost, December 12) featured Auckland University sociologist Dr Tracey McIntosh claiming that from the time of European settlement "...there was a desire to incarcerate significant numbers of our people", 'our people' being Maori.

This is simply not true. According to the Official New Zealand Yearbook of 1900, of the admissions to prison in 1898, Maori numbered only 134 of 1,724 - or 7.8 percent. That year more women than Maori were admitted to prison.

The significant growth in the Maori prison population share - 51 percent at September 2016 - came with urbanisation and welfarism. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

No wonder the PM has had enough

While the internet is a wonderful tool for increasing knowledge it is equally powerful for spreading lies. The World Socialist Website writes:

For working people, the legacy of the Key government has been eight years of austerity. Key has overseen thousands of job cuts and a decline in median incomes, almost destroyed the coal mining industry, increased the goods and services tax, cut taxes for the rich and slashed spending on healthcare and welfare services. An estimated one in four children is living in poverty and 41,000 people are homeless due to the soaring cost of housing. Large parts of the country have been de-industrialised and economically shattered. Suicides have reached record levels two years in a row.
Thousands of job cuts and thousands of jobs created. In 2008 2.188 million people were employed. In September 2016 there were 2.493. The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent. Prior to the GFC - not of Mr Key's personal making - unemployment was under 4%.  New Zealand ranks 10th in the OECD ahead of 24 other countries.

As for a "decline in median incomes", the Household Incomes Report says,

"....median household income continued the rising trend shown in the post-GFC recovery phase – on average this has been at 3% pa in real terms (ie 3% pa above CPI inflation)."

Spending on healthcare and welfare services has not been slashed. See 2016 Core Crown Expenses.

There are not one in four children living in poverty. Even using the highest threshold,

"....the AHC 60% anchored line measure, the poverty rate for children fell from its pre-recession rate of 24% to an average of 22% in 2014 and 2015"


"....there is no evidence of any rising child poverty trend in recent years using the anchored line AHC or BHC measures.....the rate for more severe hardship in 2014 and 2015 (8%) is close to what it was before and during the GFC with those in deeper hardship not greatly impacted by either the downturn or the recovery."
The 41,000 people homeless comes from the broadened definition. RNZ reports more accurately:

"...more than 41,000 people were staying in severely crowded houses with family or friends, or in boarding houses, camping grounds, in cars or on the street."
If 41,000 people were strictly homeless why are only 4,600 currently on the housing register?

And finally, the number of suicides  is reasonably steady.

Neither were the last two years record levels:

It's all lies. But I've heard plenty of ignorant people venting this sort of rubbish over the past two days. No wonder the PM has had enough.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The correlation between welfare dependence and child abuse

"For those children whose caregiver had spent ‘more than 80%’ of their time on a benefit in the last five years, 11.3% would have a finding of abuse. Those who had ‘no time’ on benefit had an abuse finding of just 0.3%. The likelihood of abuse for the first group was almost 38 times greater than for those with no benefit history."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Child abuse and family structure

Of those children born in 2010 who'd been abused or neglected by age two, 76 percent were born into a single-parent setting. This startling fact comes from government research which received little or no publicity. Why?

Bureaucratic discomfort over the increasing evidence of poorer outcomes for children of single parent, welfare-dependent parents is one reason. A 2006 Ministry of Social Development paper claimed, for example, "It would be inappropriate ... to suggest the risk of fatal child maltreatment is higher on the basis of being a child of a sole parent or a child having a low birth weight."

Yet further government data shows  'step-fathers' - or partners of single parents - are strongly over-represented in child deaths from maltreatment.

Only relatively recently has cross-departmental data been used to analyse which children are at highest risk of maltreatment. Other countries have been cross-analysing their care and protection data for many years revealing the same relationship between the increased risk of child abuse and single/non-biological cohabiting families.

In New Zealand, the over-representation of Maori and Pacific children in maltreatment statistics dates back to the first nationwide survey conducted in 1967. Common reasons given for this over-representation are poverty, unemployment and, in the case of Maori, the effects of colonisation.

Evidence suggests however that the greater occurrence of single parent families - stressed mothers and serial changes of non-related male caregivers - is behind these elevated child abuse statistics. Conversely, Asian children have the lowest rate of abuse and the lowest rate of one parent families.

Of the 2010 cohort referred to earlier, the children whose parent or caregiver had spent more than 80% of the last five years on welfare were 38 times more likely to be abused or neglected by age two than those whose parent(s) had spent no time on welfare. The children born into a single parent setting (based on birth registration or benefit data) were 9 times more likely to suffer maltreatment than those children born into two parent families. Maori children with two parents who did not rely on welfare had very low rates of abuse similar to those of non-Maori children in the same circumstances.

In 1967, when marriage was almost universal among parents and sole-parent welfare dependence virtually non-existent, the rate of physical child abuse was 2.5 substantiated cases per 10,000 children. By 2014 that rate had risen to 29 cases per 10,000. This more than ten-fold increase has been accompanied by a decline in marriage and committed two parent families.

It is likely to be argued that ‘correlation does not equal causation’. While true to a certain extent, the correlations between child abuse and family structure, and child abuse and benefit-dependence, are stronger than the most commonly advanced correlative factor - poverty.  When over three quarters of substantiated abuse findings by age two are from single-parent, benefit-dependent families, the coincidence is too large to dismiss.

It might also be argued the increase resulted from a lower tolerance to child abuse due to changed societal values, public awareness campaigns, and subsequently, more reporting. But using a more objective measure - assault-related hospitalisations of children - the rate is still  four-fold that of the 1960s.

Another important factor ignored for too long: biological fathers generally provide a protective factor against child maltreatment. Furthermore, the chances of the father - and his extended family - remaining in the child's life are significantly increased when the parents are married.

In discussions about the unacceptable level of child abuse and neglect in New Zealand, the breakdown of the nuclear family is the elephant in the room that many would prefer to ignore. Yet to do so is an abrogation of our collective responsibility to children. The committed two parent family provides the safest environment for children. The traditional family model is still fit for purpose. It is just unfashionable, and in some minds, unforgivable to say so.

Child Abuse and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us? follows on from Child Poverty and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us? published in May 2016. It is the second report written for Family First by social researcher and commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Recommended reading

George Smith is a great writer because he makes philosophical ideas accessible. Here he quotes Ayn Rand (who often did go over my head) extensively in her predictions about where collectivism would take America. Even with my short attention span I got through through it and relished some of the passages.

The placement of socialism and fascism at opposite ends of a political spectrum serves a nefarious purpose, according to Rand. It serves to buttress the case that we must avoid “extremism” and choose the sensible middle course of a “mixed economy.” Quoting from “‘Extremism,’ Or The Art of Smearing” (CUI, Chapter 17):

"If it were true that dictatorship is inevitable and that fascism and communism are the two “extremes” at the opposite ends of our course, then what is the safest place to choose? Why, the middle of the road. The safely undefined, indeterminate, mixed-economy, “moderate” middle—with a “moderate” amount of government favors and special privileges to the rich and a “moderate” amount of government handouts to the poor—with a “moderate” respect for rights and a “moderate” degree of brute force—with a “moderate” amount of freedom and a “moderate” amount of slavery—with a “moderate” degree of justice and a “moderate” degree of injustice—with a “moderate” amount of security and a “moderate” amount of terror—and with a moderate degree of tolerance for all, except those “extremists” who uphold principles, consistency, objectivity, morality and who refuse to compromise."

Friday, November 25, 2016


Trump has appointed a charter school advocate as Secretary of Education. She says the status quo in the US education system is "unacceptable." Teacher's unions are apparently not pleased.

Jolly good.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Those dirty filthy one-percenters

Here's an arresting snippet sent to me from the Economist:

Global wealth distribution: Where you fit in
If you had only $2,220 to your name, you might not think yourself terribly fortunate. But you would be wealthier than half the world’s population. With $71,560 or more, you’d be in the top tenth. If you were lucky enough to own over $744,400, as 18m Americans do, you are a member of the global 1% that voters everywhere are rebelling against. Some of those railing against the global elite probably do not know they belong to it

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nanny State marching on

I've blogged about this relentless regression only recently.

In this morning's DomPost, opposite the daily editorial, Mark Reason describes his response to the heavy police presence at Toast Martinborough:

The trouble began in Vynfields. The punters didn't cause the trouble, not a flicker of it, we were just smiling at a world that smiled back.
But then a policeman and two policewomen came in. They inserted themselves into the small dancing crowd in front of the stage. They were literally looking for trouble. It was so sinister, I decided to keep an eye on them.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The arbitrary nature of state calls

According to MSD, regarding quake affected areas:
The employment subsidy will be available for businesses in Kaikoura, Cheviot, Waiau, Rotherham, Mt Lyford and Ward who face a dramatic drop in their turnover as a direct result of the earthquakes and the closure of State Highway One.
It will be paid to businesses with fewer than 20 employees where closure of the state highway and damage to the coastal environment means they cannot operate and they cannot pay staff wages.
Naturally outsiders sympathize with those economically affected by the quake.

But the collective and compulsory way we organise and protect ourselves means that arbitrary lines will be drawn by bureaucrats who are necessarily disconnected. Kaikoura business Whale Watch, for example, won't qualify. The assumption that they are bigger, stronger and more resilient  ignores that they have greater outgoings.

I don't know if there is a better way.

But  if people had voluntary and enhanced choice about protecting themselves and their businesses, outcomes may be less fickle and  jarring.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

With 'friends' like these...

This is cruel. But it more than amply highlights that perverse phenomenon whereby people politically aligned can be each other's harshest critics.

The World Socialist Website attacks the record of Helen Kelly:

Kelly’s death at the age of 52 was a personal tragedy, but this fact must not be allowed to obscure an objective appraisal of her record. For more than a year, her protracted struggle with lung cancer was exploited in the media, with countless interviews and articles portraying Kelly as a champion for workers’ rights and as a national icon. In fact, Kelly is being glorified because she was a highly-valued servant of the ruling elite. She led the CTU as it collaborated with major attacks on the jobs and living standards of the working class.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The reality about charter schools

From an evidence based source, none other than Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori party leader:

The Maori Party is putting the hard word on Labour's Maori MPs to oppose one of their own Member's Bill's that abolishes charter schools.
The Bill, belonging to Labour MP Chris Hipkins is due to be debated in Parliament later today.
Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said Labour's Maori MPs know in their heart of hearts, because they have family members actively involved in charter schools, that the schools are achieving results upwards of 10, 20, and 30 percent of the national average, particularly those in Te Tai Tokerau.

New York Times free for a few days

Normally behind a paywall the New York Times is free for a "few days".

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Can't have it both ways

A campaign has been launched by the Lung Foundation to reduce the stigma of lung cancer.

The aim is to reduce stigma surrounding the disease and advocate for better treatments, government funding and symptom awareness.

While all the time other government-funded agencies are hell-bent on demonising smokers at least partially because of the burden they impose on the health system.

Yes, I am aware that tobacco tax already covers smoker's health costs (who apparently make up 80 percent of lung cancer patients) but you can't have it both ways.

An activity cannot be stigmatised and the outcome de-stigmatised.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Nanny state marches on - impervious to reigning party

In retrospect, one could almost feel sheepish about the accusations of Nanny Statism hurled at Clark in her final months. Political commentators would have it that excessive paternalism lost Clark the 2008 election.

National made a song and dance of reviewing silly and burdensome regulations but the neurotic back-saving health and safety stuff marches on. I gave you a perfect example this morning of accelerating meddling madness.

The crusades against alcohol, tobacco and obesity are only gathering momentum. Legislatively this manifested in  lowering the drink/drive alcohol limits (pubs go out of business against a backdrop of a rising road toll) and  ongoing tobacco tax hikes (creating a lucrative source of income for criminals and much danger for legal sellers). No  relenting to sugar tax demands yet but what are the odds?

Bureaucracy is like a fungus. Growing wherever the conditions enable it. Quietly spreading. It is impervious to changes of government. Especially when the so-called political 'masters' are tired.

At this point I am quite disillusioned with National. If that is possible, when no torch was held for them at the outset.

Friday, November 04, 2016

On Gareth Morgan (updated)

Gareth Morgan says he wants to free New Zealand from the grip of "career politicians". That's what is being reported.


If Labour was in power, I could understand the sentiment.

But at the moment the most powerful politicians in New Zealand are John Key, Steven Joyce,  Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley,  Chris Finlayson and  Judith Collins. None are career politicians. You may add others. I simply listed those who control portfolios I take an interest in.

I left out Bill English and Nick whats-his-name. They are careerists based on parliamentary longevity.

So is Morgan indicating he would (if successful) support the current government?

Ironically Andrew Little is saying, "Great to see him in our corner."

RNZ has a fairly good piece pointing out the likely direction of Morgan's policies. People should be aware that his Big Kahuna plan - essentially a Universal Basic Income - would make most single parents and Superannuitants poorer.

Laws that run out of control

The government passed the Vulnerable Children Act in 2014.

The new legislation required every person who works with children to be police vetted - the existing workforce and periodically. I and others expressed concerns about this 'sledgehammer to crack a walnut' approach.

This is already causing problems hiring EEC teachers. The vetting process is taking too long requiring 23 staff, due to rise to 28. Now there is legislation afoot to allow the police to charge for the service.

Remember, the Act was intended to protect vulnerable children. But here's the latest piece of madness.

It requires that every person supervising an NCEA exam be police vetted for their safety.

Have there been any problems that would pre-empt this new requirement? Haven't people supervised NCEA and earlier exams for years without incident?

We live in  a country that allows, no, encourages children as meal tickets; that actively discourages responsibility for fertility by picking up the tab; and that actively demotes fathers. This is what leads to the abuse and neglect of children. And occasionally, the deaths of.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Paul Henry

When Paul was a Radio Pacific talk back host in the 1990s I listened avidly. I communicated enthusiastically and regularly by fax. Such old hat technology now. In part, It was Henry's (reflected) despair about the connection between the tragedy of Lilybing and the taxpayer that set me off on a trajectory against welfare.

Now I don't get him.

Oh. Maybe he has moved way beyond what 'normal' people experience so we mustn't judge him within those confines.

I can't stand Lizzie Marvelley. She'll no longer go on his show because he doesn't respect women.

I don't know who I like least based on the Herald interview,

What is this rush to the bottom?

I still tell my 18 and 22 year-olds not to swear. Because it makes them both actually and apparently ignorant. And they get that. Though they still blaspheme more than I do:-)

BUT there are so many more words at our disposal.

When did Henry forget this?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Quote of the Day

In light of the blatantly bogus checkpoint set up by Wellington police which became public knowledge this week, the following quote seemed apt:

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

– John Stuart Mill, On Liberty [1869]
Hat-tip FFF

Friday, October 28, 2016


What private or public entity do you think this frippery hails from? (latest annual report):


Friday, October 21, 2016

Only 69 more years

The latest benefit stats are a mixed bag. That'll be why they haven't made the news. Not a lot to criticise and not a lot to crow about.

For instance, over the year to September 2016, "... the number of recipients of Jobseeker Support increased by 1,383, or 1.1 percent."

The rise is nearly all female; Maori and Pacific.

The drop in sole parents numbers is quite substantial - "....the number of recipients of Sole Parent Support decreased by 3,515, or 5.2 percent."

But (given the nature of the rise in Jobseeker numbers) I suspect that some of this reduction will actually be a transfer of older sole parents onto Jobseeker as their youngest child turns 14.

Regarding the last main benefit, "...the number of recipients of Supported Living Payment remained relatively stable, decreasing by 593, or 0.6 percent."

For many years the numbers on an invalid benefit only grew so  even stability is an improvement.

HOWEVER, the upward trend in people receiving a Supported Living Payment for a psychological or psychiatric condition continues. A further 765 were added over the year.

There was a marked increase in Pacific people becoming dependent on this benefit and the age group with the largest growth was 25-39 years.

Overall, "...the number of main benefit recipients decreased by 3,292, or 1.1 percent."

At this rate (assuming a static population) it will only take around 69 years to get back to a level where only 2 percent of the working age population is reliant on a benefit - the sort of level that was normal until the 1970s!

Image result for DPB numbers welfare working group

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Longitudinal studies are a luxury

Cutting the funding to the Growing up in New Zealand Study is consistent with this government's focus on the neediest, most vulnerable, children.

The initial cohort for the study was just over 7,000 children. But by 2014 the retention  rate was only 92%. I believe that the drop-outs would largely have been the very families the government is keen to track. I base this on the data collected about benefits. The numbers are too low. The families that have dropped out of the study would probably have been beneficiary families.

Now the funding has been reduced and the study has to cut the cohort to 2,000. This is still a useful sample size when compared to earlier longitudinal studies like the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study (1037 babies born Dunedin 1972-73 with a current retention rate of 95%) and the Christchurch Health and Development Study (1,265 born 1977) which have produced masses of interesting data and papers.

No doubt this "gutting" is a re-prioritization of public funds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Graph of the Day

No words needed. From a just-released New Zealand Initiative report summary:

Of particular interest to me, given the report I wrote for Family First earlier in the year which suggested changing family structure is the major factor driving child poverty, the NZ Initiative report finds that around half of the big increase in inequality, that occurred between the mid eighties and mid nineties was due to changing family structure and households.

They referenced Treasury research which found:

 "...the main factors which contributed to the change in inequality were changes in family and household structure (primarily a pronounced drop in the fraction of two parent households and a rise in the fraction of sole parent households), and changes in the socio-demographic attributes of households "

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Media etc misuse and abuse of data

Bryan Perry authors the government's (Ministry of Social Development) official report into household incomes in New Zealand.

The latest was published a few weeks ago. It runs to 250 pages. I cannot claim to sit down and read it cover to cover but I have found time to peruse it more closely today.

Perry details five examples of  "common misunderstanding or misleading use" of his statistics.

Here is one that really deserves wider publication:

Friday, October 14, 2016

The brilliant van Beynen does it again

From Stuff:

OPINION: Guess what? Fixing child poverty in New Zealand is not that hard.

Let's call it the John Minto solution. First, every family with less than a certain income will be brought up to a minimum stipend based on what is required for the family to live comfortably in their location.


Hurunui ratepayers will be pleased

Briefly, I cannot believe this woman's attitude.

She has been newly-elected a Councillor and is demanding a subsidy for childcare so she can attend the weekly meetings.

Didn't she research what the role entailed before applying?

When I ran for parliament my children were very young. I took the serious and somewhat uncomfortable step of asking my parents if they would consider moving close to us before I undertook the decision to run. The children and I would need their support. In the event (thankfully in retrospect) the need didn't arise. The point is you make your own arrangements and fund them...unless of course you are an entitlist.

I am just glad she isn't in my electorate. That kind of hand-out solution to the first problem she encounters does not auger well for her ongoing performance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Judith Collins telling it as she sees it

Reported on Radio New Zealand:

Ms Collins was challenged at the Police Association's annual conference in Wellington today by a delegate, who said poverty was making law enforcement harder.

The delegate said his officers had been very busy with gangs, which he said were often filled with people who had experienced poverty as children.

The government's approach to child poverty was criticised in a recent United Nations report, as well as by opposition politicians.

Ms Collins responded by saying the government was doing a lot more for child poverty in New Zealand than the UN had ever done.

In New Zealand, there was money available to everyone who needed it, she said.

"It's not that, it's people who don't look after their children, that's the problem.

"And they can't look after their children in many cases because they don't know how to look after their children or even think they should look after their children."

Monetary poverty was not the only problem, she said.

"I see a poverty of ideas, a poverty of parental responsibility, a poverty of love, a poverty of caring."

As the MP for Papakura, she saw a lot of those problems in south Auckland, she said.

"And I can tell you it is not just a lack of money, it is primarily a lack of responsibility.

"I know that is not PC, but, you know, that's me."

She refused an interview on the John Campbell Show. Quite wise. Jacinda Adern did appear but typically contradicted herself and her party by talking up Working For Families, and its role in child poverty reduction, while ignoring that National kept the policy.

She was a pig in muck canoodling with Campbell. But her grasp of the wider context of historical child poverty was woefully lacking.

The new child protection direction

In today's NZ Herald Dr Ian Hyslop takes fire at the government and its plans for vulnerable children:
The Government's proposed reforms to our child protection laws are regressive, myopic and likely to have unfortunate outcomes for children who have been ill-treated in stressed families.
They have been narrowly conceived and signal a return to rescue-based fostercare. This, in my opinion, is a huge step backwards for child protection in New Zealand, particularly for Maori.
It is difficult to envisage a 'step backward' from what is a deteriorating situation. The incidence of child abuse among Maori is disproportionately high and 60 percent of children in state care are Maori.

I worked in state social work for 20 years and witnessed the genesis of the ground-breaking Children, Young Persons and their Families' Act, 1989. This legislation addressed institutional racism (identified in the Puao Te Ata Tu Ministerial Advisory Committee Report of 1988) by making an understanding of Maori values and social structures central to working with Maori children.
The 1989 Act responded to the cultural alienation of Maori children in the care of the state by bringing Maori concepts of whakapapa and whanaungatanga into mainstream statutory social work legislation.
It required that placement of children outside of immediate family be with a member of their whanau, hapu, iwi, or at the very least with someone from the same cultural background. This vision has never been adequately supported or resourced and now, under these proposed reforms, it is abandoned.

There is nothing in the statistics that would indicate that the "ground-breaking" Act was a success. Forty five percent of the children with a substantiated finding of physical abuse in 2015 were Maori. These children often develop into the offenders that go on to make up half of the prison population.

So, typically, blame for the lack of success went on inadequate support and resourcing.

I believe these misguided changes have been based on a persuasive but inaccurate and overly simplistic assertion that the ills of the current child protection system are due to an insufficiently child-centred approach.

Too often the focus has not been on the children. It has been on the parents. Social workers focus on sorting out the parent's dysfunction and trying to keep the child in their care. This can go on over crucial years of the child's life and development. A child-centered approach would actually put their need first. And while it is difficult to extricate their needs from their parents needs, more effort to do so is vital.

Hyslop continues:

But it must be recognised that these reforms are also linked with the Government's social investment approach to public services. Social problems are seen in terms of the costs " prisons and benefits " that result from the behaviour of failing families. One way of breaking the cycle is permanently removing children from their care.
Key principles of our child protection legislation are being revised with this goal in mind.
This approach is clearly reflected in the proposal that the CYP&F Act should include a commitment to ensure "those children and young people who come to the attention of the new ministry have a safe, stable and loving home from the earliest opportunity".
Of course, the notion of safety, stability and love triggers a powerful emotional response to the needs of children. However, an idealised notion of love provided by the state and middle New Zealand carers is no basis for a progressive child welfare system in my view.
This is a misrepresentation. More than once, in the cabinet papers referred to,  Anne Tolley points out that the state cannot provide the love that children need. That must come from "stable and loving families". Her words.

In any case we've tried the "progressive child welfare system" and it has failed. The old system of adoption had its pitfalls too but the incidence of physical child abuse (as recorded by child protection services) was far lower.

In practice this will translate into the earlier and more frequent removal of children from parental care, into permanent alternative care and a reduced emphasis on securing whanau placement for children who cannot safely remain with immediate family.

Indeed it will. The cabinet papers twice mention the recruitment of more caregivers.

Anne Tolley says, "I am develop a dedicated cross-agency transformation team to design and implement priority initiatives such as an engagement strategy for all New Zealanders, a
caregiver recruitment strategy and increased support for caregiving families."

The academic continues:

With high-risk families, the intention is to plan alternate care concurrently with intensive intervention to encourage speedy long-term attachment and stability with new carers. Further, Family Court judges may have the power to make final guardianship and custody orders without a formal declaration being made.
In other words, parents will have no opportunity to dispute the removal of their children and statutory social workers will not be required to formally prove the accuracy of the evidence they are relying on.
This is a breach of human rights justified by the quick dispensation of safety, stability and love. It is ideologically driven and, in reality, will be punitive and damaging to the socially disadvantaged in our increasingly unequal society.

Why is it that the current government is driven by ideology but former governments were not? The academic has his own ideology. We all do.

Great care must be taken over extending powers of the state. At the same time great care must been accorded to children who are demonstrably in danger. Getting the balance right is the challenge.

There are many New Zealand couples who would relish the opportunity to adopt (or provide life-long care to) a child whose parent or extended family is severely impaired by violence, addiction, and/or mental ill health. Temporary and transient fostercare and spells in state care have not worked well. Often the damage created to the child in his or her first months and years is irreversible.

Part of the new child-centered approach, which can potentially act as a brake on overzealous intervention is also proposed:

Legislation establishing an independent youth advocacy service to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard in the design of systems and services.

The area of child protection is fraught but I disagree with Dr Hyslop (who I expect would lay the blame for child abuse on poverty and inequality disregarding that the vast majority of poor New Zealanders  neither abuse nor neglect their children).

I believe the government is on the right track if only because the status quo is simply unacceptable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

More bleating about budget cuts

Over a 1,000 budget advisors are waiting to see whether their government funding will continue. This is pitched as a terrible situation by the contractors and opposition, including the Sallies (who are now just a de facto state agency.)

I 'worked' for an organisation that had voluntary budget advisers. It was headed by a couple of paid full-time staff but the rest were older women, most retired. If they needed it, they could get petrol reimbursement. Other wise they took nothing for the services they performed.

Budget advising is the perfect role for a superannuitant. As the state pays people to retire perhaps those people could give back?

There is massive resource in the baby boomers. I continue to volunteer in a different role and thoroughly enjoy the work. While not a superannuitant I am still saving the state by doing something it would otherwise have to pay for.

But the left always want it to be about the state funding everything so they can complain when it doesn't happen.

A fresh mindset is required. Ask not what your country can do for you etc.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Who affronts feminism more -Trump or Clinton?

Bill Clinton ( husband of Mrs Clinton) leaves a long line of aggrieved encounteresses. Yes, I made up the word.

This doesn't matter apparently. It's the past. Hillary has countenanced the encounteressances ongoing.

But Hillary campaigns on being a feminist. A feminist that puts up with a man who is repeatedly sexually fickle?

OK, OK, So its only sex. I get that. She has bigger fish to fry.

But that was Trump's specific argument today. That he did some boastful locker talk quite a few years ago. NOW there are much more serious matters at hand. (We don't know if he physically transgressed against women in a manner that is worse and stuff could come out yet.)

A further observation:

Today's male moderator, very early in the piece, defined Trumps's indicative talk as  'sexual assault' . The voters on Trump's side probably don't buy the modern definition of sexual assault and the moderator accusing Trump of such will only inflame their disconnect and contempt for the language distortions  that feminists have forced on society.

I could not vote for either candidate.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Who's radical?

Naturally the US media are attacking presidential candidate Gary Johnson for his 'radical' ideas.

From Jacob Hornberger, explaining why libertarians are not the radicals.


Guess who the radicals were in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The socialists and interventionists! That is, those Americans who were proposing programs like income taxation, national health care, minimum-wage laws, maximum-hours legislation, and public (i.e., government) schooling, all which they were importing from socialists in Germany. It was those statists who were considered by our American ancestors to be radicals who were trying to shift America from a free-market economy way of life to socialism and interventionism.

Let’s not forget what those radical statists were saying when they were battling for the enactment of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. They were saying, “We promise that if we are permitted to bring income taxation to America, it will only be levied on the rich — and even then, it will only be a very small percentage of taxation on the rich.” It was an unvarnished appeal to the great sins of envy and covetousness.

As Thomas and others of his socialist and interventionist ilk know full well, income tax didn’t end up being limited to the rich and the percentage didn’t stay small for long. Instead, like a metastasizing cancer it spread throughout the middle class and even to the poor, to the point where many people today, especially the young, can’t make ends meet.


Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Child poverty pleaders mislead yet again

New Zealand should emulate the United Kingdom.

This call has surfaced repeatedly over the past few days. For instance:

[Max Rashbrooke] said New Zealand should follow Britain's lead and pass a Child Poverty Act, which would set out measures and targets, as well as a plan of meeting them.
"It's about taking a comprehensive approach so I think we need to start with measures, start with a plan and then I think the right actions will flow out of that."
And Jonathon Boston,  Professor of Public Policy at Victoria University of Wellington and 'expert' in solutions to child poverty, in this morning's DomPost:

Moreover, there is nothing new about governments setting child poverty-reduction targets. Governments around the world have done so for many years. In Britain a Child Poverty Act was enacted in 2010 with cross-party support committing governments to setting and achieving specific targets to curb child poverty.
But wait.

Only three months ago the UK Child Poverty Action Group reported:

 “A decade ago, when David Cameron became party leader, he promised that under his leadership his party would measure and act on child poverty. It’s a tragedy that we are now talking about rises in child poverty not falls. It’s also hugely depressing that at a time when we’re seeing rising child poverty the Government has passed legislation that eliminates its target to reduce child poverty, or even to report on the progress it is making."

Confirmed by this from 2015:

The government is to scrap its child poverty target and replace it with a new duty to report levels of educational attainment, worklessness and addiction, rather than relative material disadvantage, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said.The old target set by Tony Blair, based on the percentage of households with below average income, will continue to be published as a government statistic – but will no longer be seen as a target.

Out of touch or just willfully ignorant?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Why a 'child poverty reduction target' is wrong

Anti-child poverty campaigner Max Rashbrooke writes at RNZ:

Anyone planning their summer holiday will already be thinking about the logistics - the plane tickets, the car hire, the hotel bookings, and so on.
But before they get onto those things, they'll have decided on one key point: where they're actually going for their holiday, and when.
The same point applies to government policy, and the currently hot topic of tackling child poverty. The first thing is to know where you're going: how much you want to reduce child poverty, and by what date.
He contends that the government has done none of this latter planning.

I thought when I started reading Rashbrooke's opening he was going to allude to the thousands of children whose families can't go on holiday once a year. Not being able to afford an annual holiday is now just one item on a list of family shortfalls indicating material hardship.

So should the government start subsidizing poor-family holidays as part of the demanded percentage reduction in child poverty?

Most people would think that insulating damp state houses might take priority. Or upping immunization rates. Or funding 'home-for-life' parents who take on the most needy, damaged and disadvantaged children there are.

This is the point the Prime Minister is making to those who want a blanket catch-all child poverty reduction target.

Many children in income poverty experience no hardship. Others, whose income is above the poverty threshold, are experiencing a number of deprivations.

Many children in  families on benefits have worse outcomes than children in families who work, even when their incomes are similar. The reasons why are nuanced. But poor working families are more likely to have two parents and budget better. Policy needs to deal with those nuances.

This government, more than any before, has attempted to cross-identify data from a number of agencies that deal with children and their families - MSD, IRD, Corrections, Health and Education - to find those children most at risk of living unhappy, unsafe, unhealthy, and unfulfilled lives.

Targeting whatever funding is available to those children is the correct and humane approach.

Monday, October 03, 2016

New Children's Commissioner plays same old record

Radio NZ reports:

The Labour Party has accepted the Children's Commissioner's challenge to reduce child poverty rates by 10 percent by the end of next year.
Commissioner Andrew Becroft is urging National and Labour to work together to achieve the change.
Mr Becroft wants a material deprivation measure to be used as the official benchmark for child poverty, under which 149,000 children would be considered to be living in hardship.
So the Commissioner is challenging government to reduce child poverty.

What about challenging individuals?  Why not, for instance, challenge couples to stay together and committed to their children? Or challenge people who are dependent on benefits not to add more babies? Or challenge young people to finish their education, pay off their loans and get jobs before they start families?

What a difference changing poverty-inducing behaviours would make.

But the new Commissioner has simply taken up the old demands. Disappointing. Very.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Resisting the evidence

An interesting article appeared in the Daily Signal entitled, "What Happened When New Zealand Got Rid of Government Subsidies for Farmers."

I can't vouch for the veracity of it. I wasn't living in NZ during the 1985 to 1991 period. But the very first comment post article echoes what I thought reading it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fertility rates may be dropping, but not that fast

Sometimes I can be idly reading through some fluff when I get stopped in my tracks. That happened this morning when I read in the NZ Herald:

According to the 2014 US Census, 47.6 per cent of women go through their peak-fertility years (ages 15 to 44) without giving birth.
This can only be read as 47.6% of women over 44 don't have children.

A ridiculous claim. So I googled it, betting it was a mangling of some fact by the writer.

The Huffington Post describes what is actually happening:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, in 2014, 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 had never had children, up from 46.5 percent in 2012. This represents the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau started tracking that data in 1976.
Time reported that this pattern is particularly pronounced for women between 25 and 29 — 49.6 percent of women in that age group don’t have kids. Unsurprisingly, after age 30 those numbers drop and more women become moms. The survey found that 28.9 percent of women ages 30-34 are childfree.
And it will drop further after age 34.

From the US census:

2.0 - Average number of children that women age 40 to 44 had given birth to as of 2014, down from 3.1 children in 1976, the year the Census Bureau first began collecting such data. The percentage of women in this age group who had ever given birth was 85 percent in 2014, down from 90 percent in 1976.

So now we have 15% of women go through their peak fertility years (15-44) without giving birth.

Fertility rates may be dropping, but not that fast.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Court statistics - good news story?

Coincidentally, on the same day that the country was reacting en masse to the discharge without conviction of a young rugby player who brutally assaulted a group of people on the street in Wellington, the latest youth court statistics were released. They show a continuing fall in the numbers of young people being charged.

Adult statistics graphed look similar:

The cynic in me questions sudden reverses in trends always looking for some fish hook. Especially when the prison population is growing. According to Corrections:

The Department of Corrections has embarked on a major recruitment drive and aims to employ around 600 new Corrections Officers by September 2017, with at least 500 of them coming from New Zealand.
The new recruits are needed because the prison population is expected to reach 10,000 by 2017. This increase is due to more people being held in prison on remand than previously. Legislative changes have also meant prisoners serve more of their sentence in prison, and there has been an increase in prisoners serving longer sentences for more serious crimes. 
NZ Lawyer recently published an article about the falling court statistics.
Here's one explanation:

“The police have made greater use of pre-charge warnings and alternative mechanisms (eg, community and iwi justice panels) to ensure minor offending is more appropriately dealt with.”

I suspect that is the major reason. Not an improvement in behaviour. Serious offending continues at the same levels.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lizzie Marvelly

I shouldn't read them. Lizzie Marvelly's columns always irritate me but they do provide an insight into the modern feminist's mind. 

Today she has been unusually arrogant - even by her standards - about David Seymour's comments this week suggesting that if a Women's Ministry was legitimate so should a Man's Ministry be. Not that he was promoting the formation of such. Rather, he was highlighting the inconsistency.

Marvelly lets fly:

During this otherwise celebratory week, however, I was unfortunate enough to stumble upon a publication entitled Free Press, which the Act Party seemingly sends out as a press release on a regular basis. On Suffrage Day (September 19), the Act Party decided to tell the nation (or more accurately, the small minority of New Zealanders who have nothing better to do with their time than read the party's public relations material) that there is no longer any need for a Minister for Women, when in fact, it is men who are disadvantaged.
"Where once women were clearly marginalised, men are now behind in most social statistics," Free Press asserted, on a day dedicated to celebrating the still-challenged idea that women are as important as men.
More men go to prison. More men commit suicide. More women graduate from university than men. Men even die earlier!
Never mind the fact that women are paid less than men for the same work. Nor that women are more likely than men to suffer from mental illness. Nor that men commit the vast majority of the country's crimes.
Though I generally try to avoid reading about anything the Act Party says or does out of concern for my sanity, the Free Press caught me by surprise. I'd almost have thought that a Suffrage Day issue dedicated to mansplaining was a joke, but that would require the Act Party to have a sense of humour and a shred of self-awareness.

....From a party that has had exactly zero female leaders in its 22-year history, perhaps the Free Press' stance is unsurprising. Ignorance, however, is no excuse.

A female President is a female leader. The accusation of ignorance is somewhat ironic.

Not that ACT would concern itself with gender parity because its core philosophy is individualism.
Marvelly's is collectivism. But I am not sure she comprehends that.

The woman is a chronic belly-acher. To men, she says,

When you have no experience of what it's like to live in a world where another gender running the show is the way it's always been - from the fact that we've had only two female prime ministers out of 38, to the injustice of Sir Ed and Lord Rutherford receiving titles for their achievements while Kate Sheppard gave half the population the vote and was never made a dame - it must be hard to imagine.
I have lived in that world rather longer than MS Marvelly and  I often reflect on the freedom I have relished as a female, and a mother, a freedom furnished by a husband who has not had the same time or opportunity to pursue his every inclination because he has busied himself with supporting his family. Perhaps Ms Marvelly's father did the same. Perhaps not.

But what about a little gratitude? If not to men especially, for the privilege you have enjoyed by dint of being born in a relatively peaceful, prosperous and civilized country.

You don't know how lucky you are Lizzie.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Former British MP Bryan Gould has written in today's NZ Herald about what Labour needs to do:

But voters will feel more confident in voting Labour if they are convinced that a Labour government will approach individual issues from a consistent viewpoint - one that will give priority to the values of tolerance, mutual respect, compassion, care for each other, and a recognition that "we're all in this together".
Spoken like a true politician.

Here is Thomas Sowell's definition of 'compassion', from his political glossary:

 "A ... term that is likely to be heard a lot, during election years especially, is "compassion." But what does it mean concretely? More often than not, in practice it means a willingness to spend the taxpayers' money in ways that will increase the spender's chances of getting reelected. If you are skeptical — or, worse yet, critical — of this practice, then you qualify for a different political label: "mean-spirited." A related political label is "greedy." In the political language of today, people who want to keep what they have earned are said to be "greedy," while those who wish to take their earnings from them and give it to others (who will vote for them in return) show "compassion." "

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UBI for kids

Here's a group advocating a universal basic income for all children of $40 a week.
Lowell Manning, President of Basic Income New Zealand (BINZ) is calling for a Universal Basic Income for Children. “I like to call it a Kids’ Basic Income” he says. Mr Manning said that a Universal Basic Income for Children would work much better than tax cuts, substantially reducing child poverty in New Zealand and boosting the economy where it is needed.

Referring to reports (Radio New Zealand 27th May on Nine to Noon), that Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English would like to cut taxes by about $2-3 billion*, Manning says, “if we are serious about eliminating child poverty here in New Zealand, the Government is well placed to lead the world in 2017 by implementing a Universal Basic Income for Children”.

“The Kids’ BI would be similar to the old Universal Family Benefit that ended in 1991 after 45 years of continuous use”, he said, “so the idea is neither new nor radical. What was radical was abolishing the Universal Family Benefit in the first place”.

“A Kids’ basic income of $40 paid weekly in addition to all existing income support to every child under the age of 18 irrespective of family income or assets would return about $2.6 billion annually to the productive economy excluding establishment and administration costs”, he continued. “That’s about the same as the tax cuts the Government is considering. It creates a clear choice between substantially reducing the rapidly worsening child poverty that is causing widespread concern throughout the country and tax cuts that poorly target child poverty.”

“Moreover, the $2.6 billion a year spent on the Kids’ Basic Income would generate more government revenue because the Kids’ Basic Income will increase national output, GDP, by about 1%, and the tax on that extra output will increase Government revenue more than tax cuts will”, said Mr Manning.

“The Kids’ Basic Income is about the wellbeing of children, not family size or structure, ethnicity or social status” he concluded.
I'd like some expert economic comment on that bit of maths. Sounds like the impossible task of standing in a bucket and trying to life yourself up by the handle. We cannot tax ourselves into prosperity etc.

That not insignificant matter aside, I see a number of problems.

The income would be paid to the parent. If it's like the old Family Benefit it would be paid to the mother. In other cases to whoever has legal custody I guess. But it'll be that person who decides how it is used. Yes, poorer parents will tend to spend it but the wealthier might choose to save it towards future costs eg university fees.

So it cannot assumed it will automatically add to GDP.

Second, the behavioural effect on those who would rather breed than work for an income is a worry.

Third, how can it be fair to anyone who isn't  a parent and aged 18 and over? They don't get any tax relief because proposed cuts would be going to parents with dependent children only. So those just starting out, many already burdened with student debt, become relatively poorer.

Fourth, to really quibble, if all families with children receive the income boost, median household income rises as does the poverty threshold. On paper, relative child poverty persists.

Finally, the universal family benefit was stopped in favour of targeting poorer children. This is a reversal.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Military style camps not making a difference

MSD released two reports last week which you can find here. I have simply extracted the recidivism rates but there is additional data about the type of offending, gender, age etc. if you are interested

"This report describes changes in the offending outcomes observed for 79 young people who between October 2010 and December 2013 graduated from 11 Military-style Activity Camps (MACs) held at Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo youth justice residence in Christchurch. All of these young people had a post-MAC follow-up period of at least 12 months so their follow-up offending could be observed."

"The reoffending outcomes ...for MAC graduates appear very similar to those seen for all young people who have received SwR orders.  However caution must be taken with such a comparison, as measuring the impact of the MAC relative to SwR would require a robust statistical approach such as a matched comparison analysis. This could usefully be undertaken in the future."

Another report looks at the recidivism rate for those who went through the Youth Court and received supervision orders:

"Records for a total of 552 young people  who received a stand-alone Supervision (SUP) order between 1 October 2010 and 31 March 2013 were examined."

A final report looks at recidivism rate among those who went through a Family Group Conference process. The outcomes are slightly better but these are probably the less serious offenders. 

Based on these graphs the Military style camps had the least success.

On a brighter note, according to the summary:

Offending by children aged 10-13 years has dropped in the last five years for both genders, across all ethnic groups and ages, across almost all offence types, and in all regions.
A falling youth crime rate is not unique to New Zealand, and the reasons for the fall are unclear and therefore subject to debate.
Much of the drop in offending by children in New Zealand has been because fewer children are becoming offenders in the first place – a very positive finding.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The UN should mind its own business

It incenses me when the UN sticks its nose into New Zealand's social and political affairs. Anne Tolley has apparently been challenged in Geneva over child poverty and naming the new agency the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. According to RNZ:

"...Unicef NZ executive director Vivien Maidaborn, who was part of the delegation, said the panel had expressed concern about the new ministry.
"The comment that was made was, 'I don't understand why you would call a Ministry the Ministry of Vulnerable Children when it could just have been the Ministry of Children. You're in danger of overtargeting towards vulnerable children at the expense of rights to all New Zealand children.'"

This is bullshit.

Most New Zealand children do not need the government in their lives. They do not need a Ministry. Their parents give birth to them, care for and feed them, raise them and send them into the world without any help from a government agency that concerns itself with the care and protection of children. Sure they might receive some tax subsidy and use public education and health services but that is the nature of the beast right now.

Around 3-5 percent of children are in circumstances that even a libertarian would acknowledge  (in the absence of private charities) require state intervention. The argument is about the nature and timing of that intervention.

Seriously, how can genuinely vulnerable children at risk of abuse, neglect, and failure to develop, be 'over-targeted'?

New Zealand has every right to tackle its own problems in the way it believes will work best. I know what I would have said to the UN.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tax and transfer

From the latest Household Incomes Report overview a couple of interesting points.

Pertaining to the lower graph, "The transfers received by the top decile are almost entirely from NZS. The rest is from low-income ‘independent’ adults living in high-income households while (legitimately) receiving a core income-tested benefit such as Sole Parent Support."

Which raises a question for me. Why is it that student eligibility for an allowance is tested against parental income but eligibility for sole parent support is not?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The genesis of the DPB and not naming fathers

The first DPB Emergency benefit was created by a National government in 1968.

The DPB statutory benefit was passed into legislation in 1973, under an incoming Labour government. But it was pushed along by a National MP Lance Adams-Schneider's private member's bill under debate at the time.

That's why I wrote to Leighton Smith today that the DPB was introduced by a National govt.

I should have been clearer. And I should not rely on my memory:-)

Don W picked it up and Leighton didn't have time to read my clarification.

The subject of the DPB was under discussion because of a campaign launched by Auckland Action Against Poverty to have the penalty against sole parents on welfare who refuse to name the father of their child abolished.

If the business of naming the father is genuinely troublesome (the child is the result of rape or incest) Work and Income will not apply the penalty.

However there is also a dodge that goes on which the bureaucracy tries to discourage.

Current law requires the naming of fathers in order to collect Child Support from him. By not naming the father, the mother colludes to help him avoid paying Child Support which, if she is on welfare, is kept by the state to offset the benefit cost. In return the father agrees to pay her a lesser sum than Child Support but higher than the penalty. So both win.

Of course AAAP wouldn't have a problem with this. They are happy for the 'downtrodden' of any hue to rip off the 'neoliberal' welfare system.

Do they comprehend that these sorts of campaigns actually hurt the poor by hardening voter attitudes?

"The 30 million word gap"

According to the NZ Herald,

Some children are starting school without the ability to speak in sentences, sparking a government investigation.

A Nelson school principal, "said busy and tired parents not speaking enough with their kids was a key part of the issue, with many leaving parenting to the TV and electronic devices."
I can accept some element of truth in this but equally, busy people always find time. My children grew up during the video explosion and watched hundreds of movies. But they were also read to daily and talked to constantly.
What I am reminded of was a study I read about some years back.

The results of the study were more severe than the researchers anticipated. Observers found that 86 percent to 98 percent of the words used by each child by the age of three were derived from their parents’ vocabularies. Furthermore, not only were the words they used nearly identical, but also the average number of words utilized, the duration of their conversations, and the speech patterns were all strikingly similar to those of their caregivers.

After establishing these patterns of learning through imitation, the researchers next analyzed the content of each conversation to garner a better understanding of each child’s experience. They found that the sheer number of words heard varied greatly along socio-economic lines. On average, children from families on welfare were provided half as much experience as children from working class families, and less than a third of the experience given to children from high-income families. In other words, children from families on welfare heard about 616 words per hour, while those from working class families heard around 1,251 words per hour, and those from professional families heard roughly 2,153 words per hour. Thus, children being raised in middle to high income class homes had far more language exposure to draw from.

 This amounted to a 30 million word gap by age three.

In addition to looking at the number of words exchanged, the researchers also looked at what was being said within these conversations. What they found was that higher-income families provided their children with far more words of praise compared to children from low-income families. Conversely, children from low-income families were found to endure far more instances of negative reinforcement compared to their peers from higher-income families. Children from families with professional backgrounds experienced a ratio of six encouragements for every discouragement. For children from working-class families this ratio was two encouragements to one discouragement. Finally, children from families on welfare received on average two discouragements for every encouragement. Therefore, children from families on welfare seemed to experience more negative vocabulary than children from professional and working-class families. 

Ironically one of the reasons the DPB was introduced was to allow sole mothers more time with their children. To reduce their stress and enable better parenting.
Today it is known that maternal depression, welfare dependence and low literacy are all associated.