Monday, October 05, 2015

More political bias from DomPost

Page two of the DomPost has a large headline:

Complaints blamed on greater demand: MSD
 "A staggering increase in complaints by Work and Income clients have been written off by a government ministry which blames the increase on more Kiwis using its services.
Since National took office in 2008, the number of complaints about incorrect information being provided by Work and Income has risen by 122 percent - from 537 complaints in 2008 to 1197 this year."

Here is the table:

The first thing I notice is that the number of complaints requiring action has actually dropped from 2,298 in 2008/09 to 2,233 this year. If I were to look at a similar table depicting CYF notifications, I'd be primarily interested in the substantiations as an indicator of actual problems.

The journalist completely ignored the top line though and focused on the worst line - the one that would provide the biggest % increase. Even then, we cannot draw a conclusion because there is no breakdown of the complaints that actually required action.

Next, a journalist seeking to provide balanced information would have requested and published statistics from the  period prior to  National becoming government.(She may have but they didn't suit her purpose?)

At least  each parliamentary representative - government and opposition - was asked for comment.

Carmel Sepuloni duly provides and not unusually shoots herself in the foot in the process.

And it wasn't only beneficiaries having a tough time with Work and Income. "There's a whole lot of New Zealanders out hardworking New Zealanders who should have access to things like childcare subsidies that are getting inaccurate information."[my emphasis]

Could that be 'deserving' New Zealanders?

To be fair the DomPost should be awarded some neutrality points for publishing that comment. Once again it highlights Labour's identity crisis. Who do they represent?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Duff rides again

Alan Duff has a go at Tuku Morgan, his greed and lack of a "self-regulation" button. He proceeds onto the lack of Treaty money spent on creating employment and helping "flax roots Maori."

Then he takes an interesting turn.

You live overseas for a few years and come to realise it's quite an advantage being part-Maori.
There's the warrior bit that makes you feel pretty safe in most situations and not afraid of being mugged or attacked on some dark city street. (And anyway, it just about never happens, or not in France; they're a civilised people, the French. Booze does not give them an excuse to be violent.)
There's the musical side, and when you get a group of Maori and a guitar or two, it is quite a neat feeling all singing together at least knowing you're in tune and by French musical standards pretty damn good.
Just being an expat Kiwi feels great - our friendliness, our love of rugby, the people we know in common.
By French drinking standards, we're a bit thirstier and definitely rowdier. However, we have all embraced the behavioural code here.
But I believe being a Maori in Enzed is a more negative experience. All that compulsion to live by the myth of whanau, hapu and iwi. Ask many Maori who have moved to Australia; they'll tell you living as an individual is infinitely better. If I was a benign dictator I'd pack every Maori off out of the country so they could realise what a wonderful thing it can be to be Maori and Kiwi and individualistic at the same time.
Many of our Maori leaders have to invest in this potential and step away from the Champagne tap.

(The "warrior bit" worked for him second-time around. First time he ended up in a British prison.)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

How many second chances when children involved?

The NZCPR has an expanded version of my earlier blog post as their guest commentary this week.

"New Zealand (as represented by the child protection authority and its practices) is currently officially anti-adoption. The anti-adoption groundswell that built over the nineteen seventies and eighties grew out of an abhorrence of the past removal of babies from unmarried mothers. Today most feel repugnance for the practice. 
But isn’t wholesale shunning of adoption an over-reaction? There are many instances whereby newborns go directly into the care of CYF. The prospects for these children are bleak yet their rights seem trumped by the rights accorded to their birth parent and extended family. Babies aren’t simply removed from mothers by dint of being ‘illegitimate’. These babies are removed because their mothers are criminal; are incarcerated or live on the streets; have abused prior siblings and pose a serious threat to their newborn. The principle of redemption or second chances is all well and good when offered to the adult individual. But how many times should a child be exposed to known risks in order to satisfy liberal impulse? 
Children’s lives shouldn’t be gambled with. And they needn’t be if we once more considered adoption."

Muriel Newman's associated column provides an excellent summation of the Expert Panel report into CYF and concludes:

"It is an unfortunate fact of life that at the heart of the child abuse crisis are government incentives for women to have children they are ill-equipped to provide for. Until the State stops paying women to have babies, children will continue to suffer. The State is no substitute for a loving mum and dad, and no role model for a child. In fact it’s a tragedy that idealists have exerted such influence on policy and brought us to the systemic failure we have today. 
The child abuse crisis is a national disgrace. Only the State could fail children on such a monumental scale. Anyone concerned should read the Expert Panel’s report. It helps to explain why, in spite of the very best efforts of those who are trying to help, the child abuse crisis continues unabated."


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

60 percent of rental properties subsidised

I frequently use my blog as a filing system. While I don't use 'labels', running a 'search'  for what I want inevitably leads to success.

So the reason for this post is primarily to record a new fact - new to me anyway.

60 per cent of all rentals in New Zealand are subsidised by the Government.

Six out of ten rented homes are subsidised by the taxpayer.

That's all....apart from..... I would also observe the speech from Bill English (source of the information) began with:
I am old enough to remember the mid-1980s. After leaving university, I was involved in farming. At that time we had a number of arrangements in New Zealand that meant people who were involved in farming weren’t getting the right price signals. Then, suddenly, they did. I was a part of communities that were drastically affected by that. Farm subsidy systems were abruptly removed. Our communities changed drastically and dramatically.That was a sharp personal lesson, and one that many New Zealanders also experienced.

A strong focus of our policy is to make sure our markets work.

Yet the rental property market is still heavily subsidised and still not working.

Child abuse hand-in-glove with benefit abuse

Yesterday I was on Larry William's show backing Anne Tolley's call for contraceptive intervention with mothers who have children already earmarked for removal by CYF at birth. I pointed out that many of these children will be damaged in utero by their mother's alcohol or drug addiction.

This morning's NZ Herald features the heart-breaking story of exactly the sort of child who is being failed first and foremost by his mother and father, but secondly, by CYF, who are tasked with the care and protection of children.

The only saving grace in this awful story is that one social worker recognised the mother's use of her child as "a cash cow".That's the next issue that needs open and honest debate (if an honest debate can be had about a dishonest practice). The use of children as meal-tickets. It disgusts me.

A severely disabled child was used as a "cash cow" by his alcoholic mother and her boyfriend to access up to $80,000 in benefits, according to notes in a Child, Youth and Family file.
In it, a social worker said of the boy's caregivers: "It would appear that it's more about receiving financial payment from Government agencies, than actually providing a home for Benjamin*."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Anne Tolley shows some gumption ...sort of

This'll cause an uproar among feminists ("don't interfere with my reproductive rights") and Maori who think like Tariana Turia ("I am intolerant of attempts to control our fertility"):

The Minister for Social Development wants to find a way of stopping the most at-risk beneficiaries from having more children.

Unfortunately Tolley is being somewhat timid.
 ... said she was talking about a small number of families, where Child Youth and Family was removing more than one child at birth, most from homes with a history of abuse and neglect. "I know of a case where they were taking the sixth child from that woman and of course the first question I ask is; 'So what sort of family planning advice is being made available to that woman, is it there immediately for her to think about?'
Every year, one in five children born will be benefit-dependent by the end of it.

In the 6 months to March 31, 2015, 6,347 babies were added to an existing benefit.

In that context Tolley's ambition looks lacking. But still upsetting for some.

Association of Social Workers chief executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said she felt uncomfortable about the minister's comments.
There's a big part  of the problem. A denier. Head of the Social Worker's union no less. She should be applauding the Minister for at least  having the gumption to publicly ask why some women keep having babies when they are incapable of providing for them or worse.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"...stripping the influence of CYFS back to bare bones..."

The Daily Blog is defending CYF and state monopoly of child care and protection. This comment caught my eye:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Inequality may be declining

Thanks to the reader who sent in this very interesting observation from the Economist blog:

ONE of the key aims of taxation and public spending is to redistribute income from rich to poor. The way most statisticians, economists and policymakers think about this is in terms of a cross-sectional snapshot: what the distribution of wealth or income is between different people in a population in a single year. But we might care more about lifetime incomes: in the modern labour market, many people now have very high incomes in certain parts of their lives, and much lower ones at other times.

NZ's Gini coefficient is very similar to the UK's cross sectional so it may very well be similar to their lifetime. I can't think why it wouldn't. In which case inequality may be declining.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Restructuring CYF is not the answer

Watching Paul Henry interview Anne Tolley about the latest CYF report was very dissatisfying. There was no discussion of getting to the real core of the problem. Only the terrible statistical outcome for those children who went into state care in 1991, then a lot of blaming of current hierarchy followed by dogged promises of change.

1/ There will always be children born into circumstances that warrant their removal. But when you pay people to reproduce there will be more.

2/ In the past most of these children were put up for adoption. That outcome wasn't always ideal but it was a better alternative than constant upheaval and removal from one placement to another. Adoption delivered a better result than the philosophy of striving to keep the child with its birth mother or blood family at any cost. Because ultimately the child ends up in state care anyway more damaged than it would have been if adopted out at birth.

A Salvation Army home in the 1950s

3/ Increasingly there are people who want and cannot have children. That's abundantly clear from the burgeoning fertility treatment industry.

I've known a number of people who were adopted out at birth, and have read or heard other people's stories. Most have relished the fact that their adoptive parents raised and loved them as their own and they were provided with stability and security. Some have had emotional and behavioural problems coming to terms with the circumstances of their birth and being 'given up'. One I knew was getting into trouble with the law as a teenage boy; another was getting into trouble with the law because the family he was adopted into had strong gang links. But they were the exceptions.

Compare the now known results of "having a care placement" by age 21:

• Almost 90 per cent were on a benefit;
• More than 25 per cent were on a benefit with a child;
• Almost 80 per cent did not have NCEA Level 2;
• More than 30 per cent had a youth justice referral by the age of 18;
• Almost 20 per cent had had a custodial sentence;
• Almost 40 per cent had a community sentence;
• Overall, six out of every 10 children in care are Maori.

It doesn't matter how CYF is structured or how caregivers are reimbursed or how professionalised social workers are. What matters is reducing the incentives for people to produce children haphazardly, but, if they do, acting swiftly to get those children into a nurturing and stable home.