Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NZ didn't go to the moon but any other difference?

A cut and paste from Samizdata. Appealed to me.

The progress of social programs and the debt

Dale Amon (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Laramie, Wy) · North American affairs

1960’s: Lets eliminate everything bad. We can go to the moon so why not end poverty!
“Yes, do it.”

1970’s: Well, it doesn’t look so easy. We’ll have to spend more money.
“Well, okay.”

1980’s: It is actually not working. Maybe we should spend some more slightly differently.
“Well, give it a try.”

1990’s. We’ve got so many people depending on this! We have to spend more to keep them afloat.
“Well, I don’t want to look like a terrible person, so okay.”

2000’s: The debt is growing, and the social programs are actually having negative effects, but we have to keep trying! We’re nice people! We have to DO SOMETHING!
“Well, is this really necessary… why not cut back… oh, okay, don’t look at me that way.”

2010’s: The country is in debt and things are awful! We must help those who are least able to help themselves. We have to let the world see what nice people we are!
“Well… no.”
“Oh, bog off.”


Monday, August 14, 2017

Metiria goes but the welfare policy stays

The uproar over Metiria Turei wasn't just personal. People were polarized about her past actions and continuing attitude of stubborn, arrogant, defence but the problem for the Greens was multi-faceted. Not least was the reaction to their welfare policy.

Marama Davidson is now leading the 'poverty' policy but there is no talk about changing it. The Greens are still advocating that it is perfectly acceptable not to name the father of a benefit-dependent child, and that failing a drugs test is also OK.

When the state first began financially aiding deserted women it did so under the strict condition that the father had been pursued through the courts, and he would not or could not pay. He could be jailed.

Anyone who was considered to have caused their own incapacity to work was ineligible for social security assistance.

Some would call those conditions draconian. But they kept a lid on welfare numbers for many decades.

Patently the Greens are not going to form a government alone but one of these ideas might slip through. The first. Match that up with Labour's $3000 baby bonus and it isn't hard to predict what will happen.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On Jacinda vs Bill

Somewhat lacking in my own opinion about the overnight sensation that is the new Labour leader, I am borrowing this one:

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Metiria standing in Te Tai Tonga

Metiria standing in Te Tai Tonga. She's not on the list.

2014 Candidate results for Te Tai Tonga

Labour Rino Tirikatene 8445
Māori   Rahui Katene 4891
Green Dora Roimata Langsbury 3173
Mana BEYER, Georgina 1996
Legalise Cannabis Emma-Jane Mihaere Kingi 1005

Can she win it?

As much as I like to see justice served, I also like hard work redemption stories. If there is nothing else to bite her, and she co-operates with WINZ in the way other beneficiaries are required to, and she expresses at least some understanding and remorse about lying to them in the past, she could yet turn into a worthy MP. Writing people off serves no purpose.

She's a talent. Has tremendous tenacity. But currently misguided.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Where does Jacinda's Labour Party stand on benefit fraud? (Updated)

Who said this?

"This Government wants to make sure that everyone who is entitled to support gets it. Benefit abuse and fraud are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All cases of deliberate fraud are prosecuted. It is a disappointing fact that some people attempt to defraud our system. Where debts are incurred they will be recovered."

(Hint - this time it is not Steve Maharey)


WWallace is correct. David Benson Pope as Social Development Minister under Helen Clark.

Will a future Labour/Green government ever be able to be unequivocal about benefit fraud and back their Ministry's actions again?

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Green's irresponsibility can't even be costed

The Greens want to stop what they call punitive sanctions on benefits and raise core benefit payments by 20 percent. The sanctions abolished include drugs-testing and requirement to name the father of a child.

Many low-skilled, low-pay jobs are currently drug-tested and the trend seems to be for the practice to expand. Consider a scenario whereby the worker can fail an employment drugs test but receive a commensurate non-drugs-tested income from a benefit (the Green's benefit package will push many incomes above minimum wage). It's not hard to envisage which way the foot traffic will be flowing.

And when mothers are no longer required to name the father/s of their children, you can bet many more won't. Why would they? With no financial penalty, there is no economic reason to.  So the money currently collected in child support will reduce. This is effectively a further debit on the welfare bill.

Have we seen any modelling of the possible effects of these policies? You bet we haven't.

But a lift in taxes in higher earning brackets won't cut it.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Will Jacinda dump the Greens?

This question must be crucial to the 72 hour deliberations about the next 7.2 weeks.

I reckon she's going to.

The MoU will be ripped up, but politely.

Large majority still get it


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Charter school supporter now Deputy Leader of Labour

I drew attention to this just a few days ago.

Wonder how Chris Hipkins is dealing with this?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Landlord capture of accommodation subsidies

The following excerpts are from a cabinet paper prepared by MSD, arguing that increasing accommodation subsidies (Accommodation Supplement - AS) won't be exploited by landlords. I am unconvinced if only because of the contradictions in the paper.

For instance, the paper primarily argues that the tenant is likely to spend the extra income from raised subsidies on food, clothing, heating etc. "...rather than more expensive housing".

But it then goes on to make this statement:

Moving out of HNZ properties into the private sector almost always involves paying extra rent.

Which is it to be?

Then consider this:

It isn't difficult to imagine a graphic depiction of this. The rent line would be increasing year-on-year, and the AS line would be static.

Yet the graph used in the paper (to argue that landlords have not been capturing the subsidies) shows virtually the opposite:

Of course, these are averages and city rents pose a problem for low income people. But that also means that there are imminently affordable rentals elsewhere.

Here is a prime example of someone spending far too much on rent.

The answer to housing affordability is not to keep on increasing subsidies. The answer lies in increasing supply and tenants actually cutting their cloth.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Charter schools - at least two Labour MPs will fight for them

Well, one existing MP and one potential.

Willie Jackson runs a charter school and now Kelvin Davis, an educator himself, says he will resign if two Northland charter schools are closed.

Latest Labour policy intends:
"Repealing the legislation allowing for Charter Schools."

More dissent amongst the Labour Party.

Labour Minister called dodging child support "a rort"

When Ann Hartley was in parliament, 2002-05, Labour passed legislation to increase the penalties for claiming a benefit and not naming the child's father:

25 August 2004

Heather Roy: When will he admit that this is just a rort so that fathers can dodge child support, and why should taxpayers always have to pick up the bill?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can.
Labour raised the weekly section 70A penalty from $22 to $28 (I argued at select committee it would make no difference).

Ann Hartley wasn't responsible for her son not being named as father of his and Turei's daughter, but on the balance of probabilities, she would have known. Paying child support is no small deal.

The stance Labour took then, shows how politically difficult it will now be for them to continue their pact with the Greens.

Andrew Little should be asked if he thinks dodging child support is a rort.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Turei explains

Meteria Turei explains to an audience who hasn't a clue about New Zealand.

Last weekend I revealed a lie, a lie that I decided to talk about because of the situation we as a society find ourselves in.

I am the co-leader of the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand – the third biggest political party in our small democracy. We are two months from our general election, and we’re in a tight tussle to change the government.

Yes, a small party in a small democracy which nevertheless requires two leaders. A small party which in 6 general elections has never convinced enough voters that they are fit to govern.

Over the weekend, at our party’s AGM, we launched an incomes policy which would create the most significant changes to New Zealand’s welfare system in a generation. It’s a comprehensive piece of work that rolls back many of the benefit cuts and sanctions that have been put in place by successive governments in New Zealand (some of which are mirrored in other countries).

Sanctions (which result in cuts) that require the beneficiary to attend job interviews, pass drugs tests and tell the state who the father of their child is so he can play his part in financially supporting them - alongside the taxpayer.

 I decided this weekend I would tell supporters, the media and the country that two decades ago I lied to a government ministry while I was receiving a benefit.

I also lied while training to be a lawyer but that seems neither here nor there. Neither does the fact that I now want to make laws seem to be under any sort of ethical scrutiny.

This is why I did it.

I had my daughter, Piupiu, at 22. I was a single, young mum with no formal education qualifications. After she was born, I knew I needed to forge a career for myself so that I could financially support us and give my girl the best life possible. I made the choice to go to law school.

Over five years, I received a training incentive allowance (a benefit that has since been ditched by our current government), as well as a payment for single parents. I also had help from my family, and my daughter’s father’s family.

Actually I also kept the father's identity from the "goverment ministry" so he wouldn't have to pay child support. Some other strangers with children of their own to feed could face that responsibility.

Despite all that support, which is much more than many people in similar circumstances have, I did not have enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. And so, like many – but not all – people faced with that choice, I lied to survive.

I lived in a few flats over the years with a few different flatmates. I didn’t tell the government department in charge of my benefit about some of those flatmates. If I had, my benefit would have been reduced, and I would not have had enough money to get by.

I told the government department that I was paying the rent all by myself or maybe with just one or two others. And the other flatmates won't come forward now because they were possibly doing exactly the same. None of us could get by. We'd never heard of pooling benefits.

Of course, I had no idea that when I made that decision that 20-odd years later I’d be a politician, campaigning on benefit reform, two months out from an election.

"That decision" was many decisions, year-on-year. It wasn't a solitary desperate mistake.

I am in a privileged, fortunate position now; I have a voice and I have a platform. Thousands of other New Zealanders who are on a benefit don’t have that. In fact, they’re routinely silenced, marginalised and persecuted for the mere fact that they are poor.

Everybody on income support has a voice and a vote. If the benefit system was so mean and so degrading and so inequitable, the Greens would have been in government long ago.

That came into sharp focus a couple of weeks ago when we were preparing for our policy launch. I came across a news story about a woman who took her own life after she was accused of benefit fraud and told that she was to be prosecuted. It was eventually found that she had committed no offence but it was too late for her and the family she left behind. Reading about that case is what spurred me to tell my story – the whole story, not the redacted, PR version.

Some people have asked why it took me 15 years as an MP to do it. To that, all I can say is that nobody wants to be defined by a lie – I certainly never wanted to be. But the outrage and the urgency I felt after reading that woman’s story was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. For me, it felt like it was now or never.

So "never" was a consideration? That just adds to the sense of mistrust the Greens (via Turei) have engendered.

I also think that as a country we are ready to have a conversation about what life is really like for people on benefits and for the 200,000 Kiwi children growing up in poverty. How the welfare system set up to help people actually keeps them living beneath the poverty line; how the government uses the threat of further poverty against the poor; how the best thing we can do to lift people out of poverty is simply to give them more money.

And if we don't just "give them more money" they should take it. Like I did. Oh, and by the way, if you don't vote Green you may just have to. Don't follow the rules that have been designed to make the system sustainable and fair. And make sure you tell your children that you are ripping the system off to set a good example. Inter-generational fraud should be the goal.

In the days since the speech, I have heard from scores of people, mostly single mums, who have had to make the same choice I did. I’ve had people come up to me on the street and say the same. That reaction was unexpected but has been quite amazing.

So many people have admitted benefit fraud to me but despite being an MP, their secrets are safe with me. I made them kneel down and I touched their shoulders.

I’ve also heard from people who are outraged. They think I’m a fraud and a criminal. (Of course, as I’ve said, I will pay back what I owe.) 

Well, I ruminated over that decision for a few days (and years prior to disclosure.)

But importantly, all the abuse and vitriol that beneficiaries face today, by the agencies and in private, is now being levelled at me, in public. That reaction was expected. And it has broken the silence about how awful life on a benefit really is.

I don’t know whether people’s feelings towards me will change over time. And actually, it doesn’t matter at all. What matters is what comes out of these conversations, and whether we will see the day when our welfare system is restored to its original purpose – to be a true safety net that helps our people when they need it.

Which is what it already is. At the very least.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Overt media bias

From today's DomPost (though the on-line version differs from the hard copy offering I have responded to, you'll get the gist):

Kiwi baby death rates not improving as experts blame poverty

"New Zealand's high rates of infant deaths places it near the bottom of the OECD, with opposition parties blaming inequality and poverty for the country's poor record compared to the rest of the developed world.

Poor healthcare; poor housing; lack of access to a midwife or maternity carer; and poor health in the mother have all been blamed by experts for the poor statistics."

My response:

Dear Editor

The DomPost ran a headline on July 20, "Poverty cited as baby death rates get worse."

While not strictly 'fake news' it is outdated news, drawing on OECD data from 2012/13. Since then the infant mortality rate has dropped to its lowest number ever in 2016 - 3.58 deaths per 1,000 infants.

How difficult would it have been for your reporter to access this data from Statistics New Zealand? I could.

Instead the article was peppered with quotes about poverty, family violence and poor housing. Undoubtedly these factors contribute but the trend is positive - not negative.

Lindsay Mitchell

"Society is not a family, Government is not a parent."

Here's a thoughtful offering. It's from an Economics Professor. Imagine if we had academics in New Zealand who prescribed to these views.

"...when the government takes on the role of “parent” or ‘big brother” and takes responsibility for all such things, it weakens the personal and familial senses of duty and obligation most people in a free society would ethically and voluntarily feel “the right thing to do” to help, handle and work out with others in the narrower or wider circle of actual relatives."

There was however a time in NZ when the law forced sometimes even distant family members to take financial responsibility for indigent relatives. Not sure I am comfortable with that either. But the pendulum has certainly swung way too far towards state involvement in matters they should keep out of.

People in the interventionist-welfare state soon are desensitized and even dehumanized to these matters. After all, “isn’t that what government is for?” Besides, “I’ve paid my taxes” to pay for those “social services.” And, in addition, “shouldn’t that be left up to the qualified experts in the government who know how to handle these things?”

Now that rings a bell.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Clearly a lifestyle choice

Doesn't Meteria Turei provide clear evidence that living on a benefit is a lifestyle choice? Whenever I call having a baby/ies and staying on welfare long-term (National's definition is over one year) a lifestyle choice, people scoff. "Do you know what a struggle being on a benefit is?" they say. "Who would choose to live like that? Give me a break."

Meteria did. She made it her 'job' to be the rent collector in each house so she could charge flatmates. She knew how long her degree would take and that she would use this arrangement - living off the taxpayer and her fellow flatmates - for the duration.

It was cynical and illegal.

That so many people are prepared to not only excuse her, but deify her, is bewildering to me.

After a period in the UK, I returned to NZ in 1992. At the height of the 1990's recession unemployment. I had worked since aged 18 (1978)  full time. Unemployment was foreign to me. Months passed and I was unable to find a job. Luckily I was living back home with mum and dad. By chance I ran into an old work mate now employed by WINZ. She was adamant that I should apply for the dole. I distinctly remember her saying, "You worked for years and paid your taxes." I was reluctant, but starting to get a bit despondent and desperate. I am sure I didn't go into the local office (or have wiped the memory of it) but equally sure I received the dole for two weeks - about $60 a week because I wasn't living independently. Then I found work.

This is related only to illustrate the contrasting attitudes that people have to welfare - the chasm that has kept this story hot for 3 days now.

I would suggest that if Turei's attitude prevailed, the country would grind to a halt.  Whether she is right or wrong there is only so much of her morality the country's coffers can finance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Politician commits benefit fraud ... in UK

A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate has been sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty to two counts of benefit fraud which resulted in overpayments of more than £10,000.

Hanna Toms, Cornwall Councillor for the Falmouth Penwerris Ward, made monetary gain after failing to tell local authorities about an increase in income between 2008 and 2014.

The 40-year-old came clean about a "genuine mistake" two years ago and says that she will not be stepping down from her role as councillor.

She was sentenced at Truro Magistrates' Court.

Cllr Toms was set to stand as Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth in 2015 before withdrawing just months before the election.

In a statement, she told the BBC: "I was under the impression that as I had advised Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of changes in my personal circumstances, this information would be passed on to Cornwall Council. I was wrong.

"I would like to publicly apologise to my family and friends, my constituents, my fellow councillors and to people in Cornwall for letting them down in this way."

The money has since been repaid using a bank loan.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Which Minister said this?

"The Minister said that the ministry takes a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud for the same reasons it takes a zero tolerance approach to staff fraud. Benefit fraud is unacceptable because it undermines people’s confidence in the benefit system. If taxpayers suspect that some people are defrauding the ministry, this could cause a backlash against beneficiaries."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Green's shot at outbidding Labour

The Greens have announced their latest bid to achieve government:

"It includes a big overhaul of social welfare, with all benefit payments increasing by 20 percent and all sanctions and obligations for beneficiaries removed.

It means those receiving welfare won't have their benefits cut if they don't search for jobs or fail drug tests, or if mothers don't name the father of their child.

Working for Families also gets beefed up under the policy, with weekly payments increasing by at least $72. However, the threshold of eligibility won't be changed.

Ms Turei has also made the bold move of introducing a new top tax bracket of 40 percent, which kicks in for all income over $150,000.

The tax rate in the lowest bracket, presently 10.5 percent, will reduce to 9 percent.

Minimum wage will also go up immediately by $2, from $15.75 to $17.75."

Turei went on to admit defrauding the welfare system when she was a beneficiary. I wonder if she ever paid it back when able to?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baby Bribes

Labour is promising to pay the poorest  people in NZ over $3,000 a year to have a baby. That's the essential upshot of their Best Start package. Catch is, the payment only lasts till the child is two. What then ? Simple answer: have another baby. Stupid answer but simple.

Their next bribe - which will have Winston downing doubles - is extra cash towards electricity costs for ALL superannuitants (and beneficiaries). Yes, that surprised me, even for Labour.

They expect 80 percent take-up among pensioners. Who knows what that is based on but even at 80 percent there will be a truckload of people applying who do not need the money.

Will this get a good chunk of the usual non-voters out? Because that is surely their overarching game plan.

(If my response is harsh, even those I generally disagree with - the CPAG - don't like the package.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Assisted dying polls

From ACT's Free Press:
"The End-of-Life Choice Society have released a Horizon Poll showing 75 per cent of New Zealanders want assisted dying legalised. Taking out don’t-knows, only 11 per cent are opposed. This is extraordinary support, and is consistent with previous polls from Reid Research (71-24) Colmar Brunton (75-20) and Curia (66-20). It is time for opponents to concede that, whatever other arguments they may have, public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of change."
As previously stated, I'll not try and persuade or argue with detractors. Each is entitled to their view and they can express it here. Just don't tell me that there is some 'greater good' reason for ceding autonomy over my ending (within the context of this bill).

Friday, June 09, 2017

Do you own my life?

This is the question to be put to all of the anti voluntary euthanasia  stalwarts who will emerge over the coming months.

Thank goodness David Seymour's bill has been pulled from the ballot.

That's all from me.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Trump's food stamp plan

Food stamps - more benignly known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) - make up a huge share of the US government's welfare bill. It only ever seems to grow (though has steadied in recent years.) The Daily Signal explains why and what Trump is proposing:

The food stamp program is 92 percent funded by Washington. Washington sends blank checks to state capitals—the more people a state enrolls in food stamps, the more money Washington hands out.
A dirty secret in American politics is that many governors, both Republican and Democrat, regard this type of “free money” poured from Washington as a benign Keynesian stimulus to their local economies. The more spending, the better.
The Trump budget recognizes that the food stamp program will become more efficient if the state governments that operate the program have “skin in the game.” Therefore, it raises the required state contribution to food stamps incrementally from 8 percent to 25 percent.

Friday, June 02, 2017

"...none of the state's business."

When a sole parent refuses to name the father of her children a penalty is incurred. This is because the state is unable to recoup any of her benefit from the liable parent. But Green MP Jan Logie says:

"Is it appropriate to deprive women of essential income when the reasons people don't name a father are personal, private and, frankly, none of the state's business?"
So if the reason a mother isn't naming the father is because she has come to a private arrangement with him to  receive a sum greater than $28 (but less than his otherwise calculated child support liability)  it's none of the state's business?

It is people like Jan Logie, who believe everyone should have unconditional eligibility for state support in all its guises, that have encouraged the state to grow so big. Big states rob individuals of freedom and privacy. So I have little sympathy for her when she turns around and says some personal decision is none of the state's business.

For statists of all ilks: you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Old school"?

The treatment of those who questioned the behaviour of the now infamous Ministry of Transport fraudster was atrocious. Two have spoken to Radio New Zealand anonymously. This caught my eye though:

"When we raised issues sometimes we were told 'you're only here to pay the invoices and if they're signed and approved that's all you have to worry about'.
"But we were old school - and we were loyal and we were conscious of it being taxpayer money."

Which infers they were loyal to the taxpayer. Good for them.

But if they are old school, what is new school??

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"1,300,000 fewer years on main benefits"

That's the prognosis since benefit reforms were implemented in 2012.

It's good that the ministry is actually measuring dependency in year terms. Mere numbers dependent hid too much. Reliance on the dole is, on average, much shorter-lived than reliance on the DPB (now Sole Parent Support).

From the Minister, this is hugely important:

“Almost half of children who grow up in a benefit dependent household end up on a benefit before the age of 23, which is why we’ve invested millions in providing intensive support and training as well as help with study and childcare so sole parents can go into work.

“With the number of sole parents on a benefit decreasing 32 per cent since 2012 and nearly 60,000 fewer children living in benefit dependent households than in 2011, it’s clear this investment is helping break the cycle of intergenerational welfare dependence.

In their last incumbency Labour never got close to addressing or moving on this central problem.

“Those who have been on a benefit before the age of 20 make up about 75 per cent of current liability, with teen parents having some of the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare.

This is what I was banging on about 13-14 years ago when addressing select committees and Labour sneered, holding that the average single parent was only ever dependent for 3 and a half  years. That was factually wrong. But worse, Labour used images that would conjure up public sympathy to divert from the chronic inter-generational problem, while their supporters painted me as a beneficiary-bashing pariah.

I confess I haven't the energy or inclination to trawl through the detail of the latest actuarial report. It might exaggerate or be overly optimistic. But the crux is that the government (or THIS government) now understands the problem.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Just another manifestation of the war on drugs

Why can't the government 1/ understand the ramifications of the war on drugs, and 2/ extrapolate them to the war on tobacco?

Simple behavioural and economic rules apply.

Criticism of Oxfam's approach to wealth inequality

The following brief article from the Acton blog is reproduced in full due to its substantial merit:

"If people of faith want to reduce global poverty, they must begin by accurately measuring the problem. But a well-publicized report on international poverty distorts the problem and promotes solutions that would leave the world’s poorest people worse off, according to two free market experts.

Every year, Oxfam releases a report on global wealth inequality to further the agenda of the World Economic Forum. This year’s entry, titled “An economy for the 99 percent,” was released with the headline: “Just 8 men own the same wealth as half the world.”

The group’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said, “It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when one-in-10 people survive on less than $2 a day.” But Philip Booth and Ben Southwood of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), based in London, point out that there are significant problems with the report.

First, its method of measuring wealth (not income) is misleading. “Those at the bottom of the net wealth distribution include, for example, recent Harvard graduates with high levels of student debt and yet huge earning potential: they are supposed to be amongst the poorest people in the world,” Booth and Southwood write. Not that long ago, that would have included the Obamas, no one’s idea of the dispossessed and powerless.

Second, the report does not take into account life’s natural fluctuations. “A lot of people in the world have little or no net wealth,” Booth and Southwood note.

People accumulate wealth over the course of their life cycle, and even the better-off in this country do not tend to accumulate significant net wealth before their 30s. So if you consider that the global median age is about 28 years, it is hardly surprising that a huge proportion of the world’s population does not own any wealth.

Their conclusions reiterate the findings of a recent report from Canada’s Fraser Institute, which details how different stages of life bring different average earnings. Assets usually increase throughout one’s working years, until they are drawn down during retirement.

Oxfam recommends that Davos attendees pursue the global redistribution of wealth. Byanyima encourages politicians to “stop obsessing with GDP” growth, and the report recommends governments “increase the amount of progressive tax.”

But crushing poverty has fallen, thanks in large part to the free market, Booth and Southwood write. “Globally, extreme poverty has fallen from 44 percent in 1980 to around 10 percent today.” One could call as the first witness Oxfam itself, which stated recently, “The growth generated by private actors has contributed to an unprecedented reduction in poverty around the world in recent decades.”

The IEA cites examples from South Korea and Kenya to India and China. In Vietnam, income per capita rose from $100 a year to $2,000 after the country took measures to liberalize its economy 31 years ago. China saw the same measure increase from $193 in 1980 to $6,807 in 2014. “This is not due to redistribution,” the authors write; “it is due to trade and the liberalisation of some markets.”

Growing global wealth produces innovative products and services that serve the world’s poorest. For instance, Frank McCoster notes at The Conservative Online that internet connectivity is transforming the way Africans access vital services like electricity.

And as French President-elect Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister of a socialist administration, said, “We must first produce in order to be able to distribute.” The richest 0.003 percent of the world’s population, those with a net worth of at least $240 million, donates $25 million to charity during his life.

People of faith who care about feeding the world should embrace policies that stimulate the growth of wealth, the structures that allow flourishing in the developing world, and the religious and philanthropic worldviews that encourage us to become our brother’s keeper.

You can read Booth and Southwood’s article in the Spring 2017 issue of the IEA’s Economic Affairs."

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A flat white each day?

Bracket creep amounts to the equivalent of "a flat white each day". This trivialises the fact that the government is taking more tax from individuals in the latest financial year than the previous.

David Seymour expresses it better when saying that New Zealanders have just lost another week's work to the government.

But the increase also tends to overshadow that you are working for the government until May 8. MAY 8. Not March or April. MAY.

Mainstream coverage in Wellington amounts to a small snippet in the business pages. No wonder National gives the issue of over-taxation no priority.

Monday, May 08, 2017

What giving up looks like

A meeting was held in South Auckland last night. The dangers being experienced by dairy and bottle shop owners was the subject addressed by several MPs. However some attendees were unconvinced:

"Nothing is going to happen, they have come here to complete the formalities and wipe our tears," liquor store owner Narinder Singla said.
"I don't have any faith that they'll be doing something."
Last Friday, Mr Singla was left traumatised after two men entered his liquor store wielding screw drivers and stole money, cigarettes and alcohol.

This may be a mere matter of opinion but then again, Mr Singla might have been looking at the latest Public Service targets:

Friday, May 05, 2017


Feeling  admiration and respect for Prince Phillip as he stands down from public life, a twinge of nostalgia for his generation touched me. He's only slightly older than both of my living parents.

I wonder, do I share more values and attitudes with their generation or my adult offspring?

Tough question.

(Or, is characterization of distinct generations just another collectivist denial of inherent individualism?)

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

A 65 year-old woman will live quarter of life on Super

The qualifying age for Super has to rise.

Latest data from Statistics NZ show:

In 2014, 650,000 people were aged 65 and over in New Zealand. That’s about 14 percent of our population. This number is projected to more than double by 2039, to 1,286,000 people, almost one-quarter of the population (Stats NZ, 2014).
People are also living for longer. In 2012–14, a 65-year-old woman could expect to live another 21.3 years, and a man for another 18.9 years. This is up 6.5 years for women and 6.1 years for men since 1950–52, when they could expect to live another 14.8 years and 12.8 years, respectively (Stats NZ, 2015).
(Notwithstanding any individual savings scheme would be preferable to taxpayer-funded pensions.)

Monday, May 01, 2017

"Control is the purpose of the dole system"

Jacob Hornberger asks an interesting question: what happened to all the Vietnam war protesters?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

How far will rape hysteria take us?

Johnathan Krebs is right.

This is an appalling idea.

But he could be wrong to underestimate the support this "unthinkable" idea might garner.

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:

"...work 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)