Friday, April 28, 2017

"Welfare state 'never designed for the middle class' - Dame Jenny"

"Welfare state 'never designed for the middle class' - Dame Jenny"

Tell that to the present National Government Jenny.

Just off the top of my head, the party you once led has, in government:

1/ extended Paid Parental Leave
2/ increased GP subsidies for under 13s
3/ retained no-interest student loans and;
4/ retained Working For Families

...and does corporate welfare qualify as middle-class welfare? Because there is no shortage of that under National either.

National has become so centrist it is now almost indistinguishable from Labour.

That's bad for democracy. There is no point in having a vote if there is no feasible way to use it to advance smaller government and greater freedom.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The normalisation of income tax

The Fraser Institute - a Canadian think-tank - has a post about the growth in income tax - or theft as we defined it yesterday:

Canada’s federal personal income tax came into effect September 20, 1917 with a 4 per cent tax on all income of single people (unmarried persons and widows or widowers without dependent children) over $2,000. For everyone else, the personal exemption was $3,000. In today’s dollars, the exemptions would be worth approximately $33,000 and $50,000, respectively. To be clear, in today’s dollars, the first federal personal income tax exempted the first $33,000 of income for single people and the first $50,000 for everyone else. For reference, the basic personal exemption for 2016 is $11,474.

Here's equivalent NZ data for your edification:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Is "thievery" too strong a word for taxation?

When thievery is resorted to for the means with which to do good, compassion is killed. Those who would do good with the loot then lose their capacity for self-reliance, the same as a thief's self-reliance atrophies rapidly when he subsists on food that is stolen. And those who are repeatedly robbed of their property simultaneously lose their capacity for compassion.

– F.A. Harper, Essays on Liberty [1952]

If I disagree with the purposes for which tax is taken from me then it is taken against my will.

I have no aversion to  helping deserving causes but I'd prefer to make my own choices about who and what they are.

BTW what a continuing disappointment National are. Creating ever more dependency.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Radio NZ has this cartoon up:

On the same page this headline appears:

A fine day after forecast chaos

Talking up the weather has become de rigueur. In Eastbourne, the 1968 site of the Wahine Disaster, the "worst storm since the Wahine Disaster" has come and gone with weather that was nothing short of unremarkable. Or would have been if I hadn't noticed this ironic juxtaposition.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Recommended Sunday reading

Two related articles from NZCPD this week.

The first from Muriel Newman accurately describes the ideological impetus behind the rise in child abuse and neglect.

And the second from Bruce Tichbon, long time campaigner for father's rights,  makes some salient observations about the mess 'our' generation made of family policy and the millennial's reaction.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

"Maybe to blame"?

Stuff has a headline suggesting that the welfare system may be to blame for New Zealanders not taking jobs. There is no "maybe" about it and the article, with the help of a Morgan Foundation researcher,  amply details why. In a nutshell:

Many of the benefits and supports have the unintended consequence of making work unappealing.
The economic reasons why people prefer to stay on a benefit are well explained but as usual, there is no mention of the moral aspects of relying on taxpayer assistance when work is available.

That would be too hard.

Welfare ethics are however hotly debated in the now-closed 'comments' which make for interesting reading. Here's an example that proves the premise suggested:

When I was out of work I had to do the maths on whether it was worth working 24 hours weekly when I finally got offered a job. With a child under 19 at home, I deliberately worked only part time to minimise my tax burden & get maximum FTC & WFF. Just common sense. Why work for the extra dollars when it's given for free?
Except there are no free lunches. It's a cost to someone and the not unintelligent commentor surely knows that.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Focus still on reacting

Apparently the new version of CYF launches today. While it'd be hard to not improve past approaches to family dysfunction, the tenor of the Radio New Zealand article doesn't bode well.

The word 'parent' is absent. The words 'social work' and 'social worker' appear 8 times.

From the Minister herself, again, no mention of parents.

It's all about reacting. Still too little attention is being paid to what comes first. The parental relationships that lead to family violence. And what encourages those relationships to form and falter.

From my report, Child Abuse and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us, published late last year:

Over three quarters of children born in 2010 who had a substantiated finding of
abuse by age two were born into single-parent families. The likelihood of abuse in
this family type is almost nine times greater than in a non-single parent family.
The risk of abuse for children whose parent / caregiver had spent more than 80%
of the last five years on a benefit was 38 times greater than for those with no
benefit history. Most children included in a benefit appear with a single parent or

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stomping on a head

TV1 News tonight aired phone-filmed footage (3 times) of a New Zealand schoolgirl stomping on the head of another. Face pressed to ground. Hard.

Questions arise about how others were prepped to film it, but then a generation I don't understand could easily be of-the-cuff cinematographers.

Naturally, I remarked that the 'rape culture' and 'family violence' female victimhood 'religion' is not amply supported by this wee bitch and her cohort. And I do not use the word 'bitch' lightly.

Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Link to renovating blog

I've added the renovating blog to the 'Blogs I read' list so you'll see any new entries come up if you're interested. Good progress has been made in week one. But I need a big sleep.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Central Problem from Which all Else Stems

I got an e-mail from the Prime Minister's team. It read:

Today marks six months until the General Election.I’m privileged to have taken the reins of a party and Government that has worked hard to grow the economy, get Kiwis into work, lift their incomes and tackle devastating natural disasters.
Our challenge now is to sustain that growth, build on the success of the last few years and ensure those who need the most help get it.As a country, we also need to be ready to adapt to a still fragile and uncertain world.
We’ve started the year with real momentum - announcing 1125 new Police, rolling out broadband to 151 new towns and moving to ensure NZ Super is secure and sustainable into the future.We’re heading into the election with a clear plan for long-term prosperity and a strong, united team - a team committed to getting out on the road and continuing to inspire your confidence in the economy and in the direction of our country.
If you’re as committed as we are to seeing New Zealand succeed as a confident, forward-looking country, please make a donation to National's 2017 campaign now,  Bill. 
I emailed back:

I really like Bill calling himself "Bill" instead of "Prime Minister".

But can Bill - who sounds like Bill (or Bob) the Builder - please fix the red tape stuff. It takes too long and costs far too much to get stuff done in this country.

New Zealand is amazingly positioned right now to make hay while the sun shines. Please make hay-making easier.

Lindsay Mitchell

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why I am out of here

You might have noticed I'm not blogging. Much.

Here's why.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Have we forgotten Greece?

Published in today's Dominion Post:

Dear Editor

Owen Dance (Letters, March 13) writes, "[W]hat we now call New Zealand Superannuation was originally introduced as a benefit for the 'indigent elderly'. " I assume he refers to the 1898 Old Age Pension. The word 'benefit' did not come into common parlance until late 1930s when the Labour government introduced a range of new assistance. It was adopted after the American social security terminology in preference to the increasingly stigma-attached term, 'pension'.

Now the word 'benefit' has become similarly stigmatized, the government has once more changed labels. The Unemployment Benefit has become Jobseeker Support; the Invalid's Benefit is now the  Supported Living Payment and the Domestic Purposes Benefit is Sole Parent Support. This is mere window dressing, a move with only slightly less substance than the proposed increase in Super age to 67 a full generation away.

The point is, too large a proportion of the population (of any age) unnecessarily depends on the rest of society to fund their needs. The aim should be to reasonably reduce the dependent proportion - for everybody's economic and social well being.

Lindsay Mitchell

I should have added, have we all forgotten Greece so quickly?

Monday, March 06, 2017

Start contemplating Anne

A parliamentary question exchange from less than a year ago:

David Seymour: How long after the current Prime Minister’s retirement will the Government raise the age of entitlement to New Zealand superannuation?
Mr SPEAKER: No. Oh, I will let the Minister address it. It is a marginal question, I have to accept.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: That is so far in the future I could not even contemplate it.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Quote of the Day

Regarding a guaranteed basic income, which has been mooted in various guises for decades, and more recently adopted as a favourite by Gareth Morgan in his book, The Big Kahuna:

When income is procured through the threat system of taxation and redistribution, no wealth is created … The unproductive consumers are merely a conduit for funneling what was taken back to those who produced it in the first place. It is like trying to increase your bank account by writing yourself a check. And unless the receivers are required to spend 100 percent of the BIG [Basic Income Guarantee], the result will not even be zero-sum. It will be negative-sum.      Dylan Pahman


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reality on the front-line

Politics and reality not infrequently bear little relation to each other.

My last two posts have been about the Maori Party's determination to retain the CYF whanau first policy.

The new boss of CYF was recently at the Otara office facing questions from front-line staff. For example:

Will you solve the foster-parent drought that makes it impossible to find placements for our mokopuna?

Note the questioner wasn't asking for specifically Maori placements. More importantly, the question implies that they aren't enough whanau carers available anyway.

The main difficulty in recruiting foster parents, I expect, is the temporary nature of placements which is very unsettling for the children and, in turn, the carer. The vetting processes may also be off-putting or rule out potential carers for possibly trivial reasons. But more 'foster parents' will step up as the home-for-life rules become better known. I hope.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More on whanau first and "assimilationist policy"

Radio NZ reports quite clearly today about the legislation the Maori Party is threatening to draw its support for the National Government over:

The current law gives priority to placing a child with a member of their family or wider hapū and, if that was not possible, then to someone with the same tribal, racial or cultural background as the child.....But new legislation removes that priority, and instead puts emphasis on the child's safety.
It is particular troublesome to identify "tribal, racial or cultural background" as a priority for placement. Why?

Because thousands of Maori children have mixed cultural backgrounds.

More Maori partner with Europeans than their own ethnicity.

Meteria Turei can blather on about the new legislation being state-forced assimilation but people are making their own choices about blending their ethnicities and will make their own decisions about making it work. Maori and Europeans are integrating rapidly. Voluntarily. Legislation needs to reflect this fact.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Falling out over whanau first

Maori Party MP Marama Fox is threatening to pull support from the government over legislation that removes cultural priority when placing a Maori child in care. But her choice of words would lead you to believe she supported the change:

"Just because we want to provide a safe and loving home doesn't make it mutually exclusive to a Maori home," Fox said.
What she actually wants is the status quo - whanau first.

Winston Peters disagrees. Unusually I am completely in accordance with him:
"I've known of too many children thrown from pillar to post between whanau members. I also know of hundreds of Maori who have been massively successful because they were lucky to have relations who would look after them.
"But to apply a blanket whanau-first principle just does not in the circumstances make any sense," Peters said.
The government is currently recruiting people who can effectively adopt children under their Home For Life programme.

The most crucial thing for a child is that they have a 'parent' that puts their needs and well-being foremost. Whether they are kin or not must be a secondary consideration.

Fox says:
History has already resulted in a "stolen generation," said Fox.
"Children who were put into state care immediately went to the bottom of every disparaging statistic in this country. They immediately are more likely to offend, more likely to be in prison, more likely to fall out of education."
That ignores the current push to find permanent and stable homes for children.

For too long there have been hundreds of couples wanting to adopt and thanks to CYF's antipathy for removing children from their whanau, very few children can take advantage.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says:
 “The fundamental provision in this bill in the deliberate intention to remove Māori children from Māori whānau for good! It is an assimilationist policy!”
Bunkum. It's long overdue policy to keep children safe. To give them the best chance of leading happy and fulfilling lives. If anything it's about ignoring (or at least de-proritising) race and culture and seeing the child as an individual foremost.

There has also been extensive consultation with children - and that's ongoing.

The [Expert Panel review of CYF] found children and young people said they crave nurturing and love, and feel the stigma of being in care. They feel powerless in the face of a system which is perceived to hold all the power and have no voice in important decisions being made about their future.

Anne Tolley can have the last word:
Minister Anne Tolley says that the goal of this bill, is to bring the focus squarely on the children.
“The bill makes changes to the purposes and the principles of the act, to imbed a truly child centric approach and ensure children's and young people's participation.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Tall poppies"

I feel I have featured this man's letters before. He has a rather acerbic turn of phrase. For your reading pleasure:

Putting adult's rights before children's

On my reading of the situation, because New Zealand wants same-sex couples and singles to be allowed to adopt Russian children, and Russia can't agree, there will be no more adoptions (which were put on hold in 2013).

Yet another case of putting adult rights before children's. Something at which New Zealand excels.

Monday, February 13, 2017

To work or not to work?

Throughout the 2000s the left argued against work-testing (requiring employment from) people on the DPB. Maharey removed National's work-testing requirements around 2002. Labour and the Greens have long represented the DPB as an escape route and haven from family violence (whereas I argue it is a driver because it attracts serial, ill-motivated partners.)

Here's what Green MP Jan Logie wrote as late as 2012:
To institute mandatory work preparedness requirements and pressure women leaving these violent relationships to go into work flies in the face of generations of work in this country to enable women to leave these violent relationships.”
However, a letter in today's DomPost, from the National  Council of Women (traditionally very left-wing), the Federation of Business and Professional Women, the Equal Opportunities Employment Commissioner, CTU and National Collective of Independent Women's Refugees says the following:

"....people affected by domestic violence should be able to take up to 10 days leave. This will help them move house, attend court hearings and meet with lawyers. Put simply: this bill will save lives. It will make it easier for people to leave a violent relationship and stay in employment. It will also keep victims safe at work from their abusers." (My emphasis)

Ironically the letter is in support of Jan Logie's Domestic Violence Victim's Protection Bill which enters parliament this week. The authors of the letter wouldn't often agree with each other to the extent that they could enter into collective advocacy. I am not sure Logie would be 100 percent comfortable with it.

Surely their last sentence is an argument for getting women off benefits and into the workforce?

Saturday, February 11, 2017


The following is extracted from a report by  the World Socialist Website so be warned of bias. Putting that aside, what famous quotation comes to mind when you read the article?

Up to 34,000 workers at the Australian government’s Department of Human Services (DHS) are scheduled to hold rolling strikes over the next two weeks. They include staff at Centrelink, the agency that oversees welfare payments, along with Medicare and Child Services employees.
The limited industrial action has been called by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) in the face of protracted opposition by public sector workers to the government’s demands for cuts to wages and conditions. There is also immense popular anger over the government’s draconian “debt recovery” scheme targeting current and former welfare recipients, which Centrelink workers are being forced to implement.


(Clue: The quote has been falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Asking the right questions

A sane letter from the DomPost today. Makes a change.

(Left click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Mystery no more

Yesterday the Sallies published their State of the Nation report. It was covered in the NZ Herald:

"...the report notes that welfare numbers have declined faster than unemployment in recent years, suggesting that not all those pushed off benefits have found jobs.
"Just what has happened to these people, and whether they are better or worse off, is a mystery." "

Not quite. SuperU (ex Families Commission) released some research today which followed 140,000 people who left benefits in the year to June 30, 2011:

About the 'unknowns' the report makes this observation:
 "18 percent of people who moved off a benefit but did not return, their main activity two years later was unknown. It is possible that some of these people were being supported by their partner."
I suspect quite a large proportion as movements in and out of sole parenthood are common, and the rate of sole parent dependency has fallen the fastest.

This is significant because the left have been complaining for some time that the heartless government was pushing people off benefits and had no idea what happened to them.

It does now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Some history

Here's a quotation from today's Future of Freedom newsletter:

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
– Grover Cleveland, " Letter to the House of Representatives" [1887]
As per usual I am struck by how the western world debated and developed laws fairly simultaneously and continues to do so. At this time there was much clamouring for governments to get involved in redistributing wealth.

Dr Duncan McGregor, New Zealand's Inspector of Hospitals and Charitable Institutions late 19th century was radical in his opposition to state  assistance understanding the difficulty of raising funds privately once it was known government was putting up taxpayer money. He said:

"Poor Law dries up the springs of private charity."

Scottish-born New Zealand MP Donald Reid, also resisted saying in 1877:

"...and the class requiring assistance would begin to consider that they had a right to demand the money which was collected by means of the poor rate, whereas they ought rather to feel that any assistance they obtained was given as a charity".

According to historian David Thompson, Reid and his colleagues were anxious that a "vagrant class" did not latch on to the earnings of others.

The idea of state assistance provided through a compulsory levy was an anathema to the early Liberals, though some favoured a mix of subsidy from the Consolidated Fund (raised mainly through duties as opposed to income tax) and privately-raised monies. About granting a right to monetary support by others, Prime Minister, Robert Stout said:

"I consider that to be a most dangerous principle for any State to confirm."

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Being a statistic

Twice this year the stats I frequently blog about have become personal.

First I had to make a call to CYF. I guess it will be logged as a report of concern. They were helpful.

Second, while the overall unemployment rate grew  by 0.3 percentage points between December 2015 and December 2016, a significant unemployment rise affected 15-24 year-olds: 10.9% in December 2015 to 13.6% in December 2016. Sitting in the group is my 22 year-old BA son.

It's not easy watching your kids (they are always kids to me) applying and applying and not even getting interviews. He's hardworking, self-disciplined, punctual, good-humoured, a reader and a thinker. And of course I would say all that. I am his mother. But I flinch when people stereotype his generation as lazy, unrealistic, illiterate and ill-prepared for the workforce.

No doubt, as Mr Micawber faithfully avowed, "Something will turn up."

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Unemployment creates a vicious circle

A reader sent me a US article about the best way to alleviate poverty in the US. Unsurprisingly it concludes that work is the best strategy. But I particularly appreciated this statement:

" is more than just a means of income generation. Work also provides adults and their families with a time structure, a source of status and identity, a means of participating in a collective purpose, and opportunity for social engagement outside family life.  A host of studies have connected joblessness to increased risk of family destabilization, suicide, alcohol abuse, and disease incidence, as well as reduced lifespan. Several large reviews of research conclude that unemployment not only reduces physical but also psychological well-being."

Although the paper does not make a direct connection, the graph below highlights this. Percentage-wise, people not working due to illness and disability has quadrupled since 1969.

Being unemployed makes people psychologically unwell. The same pattern has occurred in New Zealand. This problem is not going away. In fact it is worsening. The number of people who relay on welfare for the reasons of psychiatric or psychological incapacity - the primary reason for being on the Supported Living Payment - have risen from 51,000 to 55,000 since 2011.

Unemployment creates a vicious circle.It can ultimately make people unemployable.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The good and the bad

Yes my blog is supposed to be about welfare and related matters but the grind can get you down. To add to that the Wellington weather has been utterly abysmal. The lack of summer started as an interesting talking point but has become a real downer. My often-noisy, chaotic, creative daughter left home for Dunedin and the house is too quiet. So for some good news....

Readers may recall my exuberance over a horse I have taken a share in, winning his first start (3rd in his lifetime) at Alexandra Park back in late December.

Since then Everything has won three more times, and had a 4th and 5th placing. I went to watch him at Otaki on Sunday where he won the Otaki Cup.

The trainer, Nicky Chilcott, is riding (or should that be 'driving') on the crest of a wave. It's a thrill to be involved.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Children removed from home before they are one

Ten percent more infants were removed in the year to June 2016 than in the year to June 2011. These are babies who no other family member can be found to care for them. Very sad.


Friday, January 27, 2017

"Marriage is a dirty word?"

Last year's report Child Abuse and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us? largely flew below the radar. But this welcome editorial appeared in the Northland Age earlier this week. Thank you Peter Jackson, whoever you are. 

Editorial: Marriage is a dirty word?
By Peter Jackson

Bob McCoskrie will be well used to it by now, but the response to a report declaring that children who are raised by their married biological parents are at a much reduced risk of abuse is illuminating.
The first response to last week's Northland Age story (Ssshhh - Don't mention family structure) was to dismiss the report because it had been commissioned by Family First.
Such is the level of critical thinking in some quarters these days. And it is that prejudice against what some see as old-fashioned values, as promoted by Family First, that is preventing us from doing anything meaningful to reduce the rate of violence against children.
All might not be lost though. One reader who dismissed Lindsay Mitchell's research as propaganda supposed that the key might be stability rather than marital status.
Fancy that. Such a profound analysis must give us all cause to believe in the survival of intelligence.
Lindsay Mitchell, whose history strongly suggests she is not for sale to any lobby group, has an impressive CV as a welfare commentator and researcher.
More importantly, her conclusions on this occasion do not apply solely to this country.
The indisputable fact that children who grow up in step, blended or sole-parent families are in greater danger of abuse by adults than those who grow up with both biological parents is replicated elsewhere.
Some hackles will be raised by her finding that Maori and Pacific families are over-represented in child abuse rates, and feature more than their share of ex-nuptial births, the absence of one parent or both, large numbers of siblings (especially from clustered or multiple births) and/or very young mothers. Long-term welfare dependence is another risk factor.
But, before the knives come out, she also finds that Maori and non-Maori children alike who live in two-parent working families suffer very low abuse rates.
Asian children, whose population has the lowest proportion of single-parent families, suffer disproportionately low rates of abuse.
The presence of biological fathers matters, she says, in protecting children from abuse, and marriage presents the greatest likelihood that the father will remain part of an intact family.
Mitchell's final conclusion is that there are "certain" family structures in which children will be far more vulnerable than others.
Is anyone surprised by that? Well yes, apparently some are. And offended. Some see it as a shameless plug for Family First, and the espousing of values that have had their day.
The world has changed, you see. Adults now have the right to scratch their itches. If they don't want to commit to a relationship, they don't have to.
Society no longer expects a public display of commitment, and like it or not, some children are paying a very high price for that.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Progress painstakingly slow

Latest benefit statistics show painstakingly slow progress on raw numbers.

(Note the first MSD chart is mislabeled and should read "to December 2016")

But a few other aspects can be considered.

"The majority (70.4 percent) of main benefit recipients had been receiving a benefit continuously for more than one year."

This proportion has been constant since at least 2010. Bearing in mind that in December there are more temporary beneficiaries, during the rest of the year the percent who have been continuously dependent for more than a year increases to around 73%.

How have other characteristics changed?

You would hope that the beneficiary population would be ageing as proof the reforms to discourage young people from becoming dependent early are working.

I've compared December 2007 to December 2016:

Further analysis of the 18-24 year-old group is required to make sound conclusions but on the face of it, not a great result. And while there are probably slightly fewer Maori beneficiaries, their disproportionality has worsened. The lower ratio of female dependence is largely a result of the fall in sole parents on a benefit.

As an electoral issue welfare seems to have faded away. I'm not sure why. It's still a huge concern to have one in ten people unable to support themselves, for whatever reason.The focus certainly seems to have shifted more towards the 700,000 plus people who are supported by the taxpayer by dint of age. I don't want to have an argument about Super and entitlement etc. but the economic future implications cannot continue to be ignored.

To keep an issue in the limelight  strong opposition activity is required. Labour and the Greens can only complain that the government is being too hard on beneficiaries and I don't think that is gaining any traction. They can't attack them on performance unless they can promise to do better. And they don't have any good ideas about how.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mobile phone offending overtakes alcohol offending

Many interpretations could be read into the following statistics. For offences to be recorded they have to be discovered for starters. Police are constantly complaining about under-resourcing (aided and abetted by the opposition) yet they manage to find plenty of staff to man alcohol check points. On a recent road trip across Victoria and NSW the lack of police on the roads was most noticeable when compared to NZ. In a week we saw two police cars (though noted large numbers of police stations). 

My husband was stopped yet again driving home from work last night at an alcohol check point. He asked the officer if they had caught anyone over the limit. The reply was," No. But we've caught people close to it." Husband noted that you cannot "catch" people who haven't broken the law but I think it went over said officer's head.

Anyway, what can be inferred from the statistics below is that banning the use of cellphones while driving has failed. Alcohol offending was on the decline but with the lowering of the limit the trend has reversed. You have to ask the question, with the downward trend what was the rationale for lowering the limit anyway?

And which is more dangerous? Drinking and driving, or talking/texting and driving? The first seems to attract a great deal more societal disapproval but perhaps that's an illogical attitude. Perhaps the use of cell phones while driving is not particularly frowned upon because so many people do it. In which case, what use is a law that is routinely flouted? The revenue is handy though.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One child every 45 minutes

That's roughly how often a child is born onto welfare in New Zealand. According to Statistics NZ a child is born every 9 minutes. According to me every fifth child born will rely on a benefit, if not directly, shortly after their arrival.

If you doubt my statistics, refer to MSD's from earlier years:

At September 2016 there were 179,732 children reliant on a main benefit - slightly up on the June and March quarters but down on Dec 2015. This represents 15.3% of all children (aged 0-18) but in the 0-4 age group, the figure rises to 19.3%.

Sixty nine percent rely on Sole Parent Support (though this is an under count of the extent of sole parent dependence given thousands more receive jobseeker, emergency maintenance, supported living and youth benefits.) Most children reliant on a benefit appear in the child poverty statistics (though not all). Therefore, the main driver of child poverty and hardship is sole parenthood.

(Hat-tip to whoever submitted the OIA request from which the last graph stats are sourced)

If I was a conspiracy theorist...

... I 'd be suspicious of the following error made by the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry now publishes OIA responses. I was browsing through the topics and initially ignored these two:

Bryan Petter is unknown to me and I assumed the request concerned some personal matter.

Later, curiosity got the better of me and I took a look.

In fact, Bryan Petter is actually Bryan Perry, MSD's producer of the Household Incomes Report, the chief source of poverty and hardship statistics.

There is no way that the error is a mere typo. An extra letter has been added.

Then again, there is little point in trying to hide a release of documents that have been heavily redacted anyway.

Still, the matter leaves me curious ...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Is the hysteria about inequality overblown?

Oxfam are releasing a report this afternoon belly-aching about the disproportionate amount of wealth owned by the richest New Zealanders. Andrew Little is already on the band-wagon blaming National.

While 'wealth' and 'incomes' are not an exact match, in the interests of balance:

For those who like to look at the bigger picture the accompanying text is interesting:

The long-run perspective in Figure J.7 can tell more than one story.  Taking the end of the “great compression” (1950 to 1980) as the starting point, the conclusion is that for the five English-speaking countries in the graph, inequality (understood as the share of income received by the top 1%) increased strongly to 2011. With the 1920s as the starting point, the “great compression” can be seen as the “aberration” and now the distribution has returned to where it was ninety years ago.


Friday, January 13, 2017

The negative effect of welfare on children's outcomes

Unfortunately time does not permit me to add much commentary but you can go to the link below the graph for more detailed information. Essentially when tracking the progress of children born in 1993 the lines clearly demonstrate the negative influence of welfare on future outcomes:

(left click to enlarge)

Extracted from

NZ Herald coverage of report here

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quote of the Day

Poverty in a society is overcome by productivity, and in no other way. There is no political alchemy which can transmute diminished production into increased consumption.

– John Chamberlain

(hat-tip FFF)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Left's intransigence over tax cuts

Just home from an Australian sojourn  (during which I managed to read an entire book, a particularly dark Colleen McCullough book), here's an op-ed  from Gordon Campbell you might wish to comment on:

Ever since the world fell prey to the mullahs of the free market in the 1980s, no amount of real world evidence has managed dispel one key tenet of their economic faith. Namely, the idea that if you cut income taxes and taxes on small business, a wave of individual enterprise and entrepreneurial energy will thus be unleashed, profits will rise and – hey bingo! – the tax cuts will soon be paying for themselves via all that extra economic activity that this virtuous cycle will have set in train.
My off the cuff response:

Tax cuts are never significant because state-spending won't allow it.

Insignificant tax cuts will not stimulate entrepreneurship.

Typical governments are in the business of balancing budgets. REAL tax cuts are rare in the developed world.

What I do believe is that the Laffer Curve is real. You can only squeeze a lemon so much.

New blog

Mark Hubbard has started a new blog about art, films and books which looks promising. The art selection so far has introduced me to unfamiliar but attractive paintings. About to add to my blog roll.