Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Children not lab rats"

The following report intrigues me.

 MSD Minister, Anne Tolley is outraged by a study proposal which she describes treating children as "lab rats".

A plan to treat vulnerable newborns as "lab rats" by sitting back for two years to see if they were abused has been blocked by the Government.
The Ministry of Social Development proposed to include 60,000 children born this year in an "observational study" to test the accuracy of its new predictive risk modelling tool.

It has been described as a study that does not intervene.

There isn't enough information provided from the official papers to confirm that.

Many 'vulnerable' children - if not a majority -  suffer adverse outcomes despite intervention. CYF can be going about its usual business alongside a study that seeks to discover whether a pre-identified group meet predictions.

But if it is correct, that MSD sought a period of no intervention for all children born in 2015... well that's ridiculous. So ridiculous I suspect it was put up to thwart the progress of the predictive modelling regime.

The reporting is rather sensational. "She has called a halt to the study."

But there was no study. It hadn't even been to the ethics committee for approval.

Tolley also appeared to signal a major backdown on a proposed population-wide application of the model, saying it was "unlikely" to be used on children that had not already been notified to Child Youth and Family (CYF).
That's in line with what MSD is saying,
Predictive Modelling will be carefully tested to assess whether it can enhance decision-making at intake for children who are reported to Child Youth and Family because of concerns about abuse or neglect.  The aim is to support, not replace, professional judgement

Ironically this involves waiting for something bad to happen. Or non-intervention despite predictive flags. Which isn't far removed from what has wound the Minister up in the first place.

This whole business is very curious. Very.

(On a third reading I am beginning to think the reporter is talking about two different studies.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Maori - both on the move... and static

A friend sent through a newly released paper about Maori, mobility and economic liberalisation:

Between 1984 and 2003, New Zealand undertook comprehensive market-oriented economic reforms. In this paper, we use Census data to examine how the internal mobility of Māori compares to that of Europeans in New Zealand in the period after these reforms. It is often suggested that Māori are less mobile than other ethnic groups because of attachment to particular geographical locations. If this were the case, Māori may have been disadvantaged in the post-reform period because they were more likely to be living in adversely affected areas and less likely to move to pursue better employment opportunities. In contrast to the anecdotal evidence, we find that Māori are more mobile on average than similar Europeans. However, Māori who live in areas with strong networks of their iwi are slightly less mobile than Europeans. The difference between Māori who live locally to their iwi and those who do not is even more pronounced when we consider responsiveness to local labour market shocks. Non-local Māori are considerably more responsive to changes in economic opportunities than are Europeans, whereas local Māori are almost entirely unresponsive.

None of this surprised me.

Maori up sticks with more frequency and ease than Pakeha. While this paper covers "internal mobility" the large Maori population in Australia is tangible evidence of this willingness to follow the jobs (and other desired lifestyle factors).

But other Maori, connected to tribal homelands, or, let's be less romantic about it, who live in long-standing  uneconomic bases, but among whanau and iwi, are quite likely to increasingly rely on each other and the state - and to pool those resources - rather than endeavour to be part of the work force.

No disrespect to Urban Maori Authorities (whose intentions are worthy), but their development may have extended or exacerbated the combination of whanau/ iwi/state dependence into the city.

NZ on a similar trajectory to Greece

A post at Kiwiblog about pensions crippling the Greek economy prompted me to look at the path NZ is on.

The following figures are all from a Treasury Report, Affording Our Future 2013:

Of course, most of the people reading this blog won't be around in 2060. But our children will be.

Treasury suggests as responses:

• Government taxes more as a percentage of GDP than it does currently.
• Government restricts spending growth in some areas, relative to historical growth rates. Spending in a particular area may still grow as a percentage of GDP, but not as much as it could grow.
• Government reacts to demographic change. Because one of the major drivers behind future financial pressures is population ageing, services are redefined to compensate for the fact that people are living longer, healthier lives.
How come they didn't suggest growing GDP at a faster rate?

Anyway, the message is,
"No matter what policy changes we decide on, it is important that we decide on them early. Fiscal pressures are already starting to build, and the sooner we can address them the easier it will be. The next step in managing fiscal pressures is deciding what choices we will make to achieve a prudent level of government debt by the end of this decade and maintaining it beyond that date."
Just what Greece failed to do.

And my impression is NZ isn't making any hard decisions either.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The "wrong people"

You hear it all the time. He fell in with the wrong people. She started hanging out with the wrong crowd. My kid started mixing with the wrong people.

Mostly it's a piss poor excuse. Only occasionally does it pertain to people who are easily led and impressionable.

"...he had joined with "a couple of the wrong people and got into drugs", meaning cannabis..."

He WAS the wrong people.

Jail sentences for discriminating against the poor?

Among the bits and piece I've read this morning, from France, Bill aims to lock up offenders who pick on the poor

I wonder what provision will be made for offenders who 'pick on' the rich? Then I wondered if the Greens might like this piece of legislative insanity.

On a more cheerful note, there should be fewer poor to discriminate against according to research from the US;

51 percent of individuals said they are better off than their parents at the same age and only 24 percent said they are worse off.
The frequency that individuals felt better off was constant across socioeconomic starting points, except for individuals whose parents both had a bachelor's degree. 
Only 40 percent of individuals whose parents both hold a bachelor's degree said they are better off.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Worthwhile Sunday morning read


Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just visited my hometown of Laredo, Texas!
Not surprisingly, Trump entered Laredo filled with fear. I say “not surprisingly” because Republicans live their lives filled with fear. Communists! Terrorists! Muslims! Illegal aliens! Drug dealers! Bin Laden! Saddam! Ho Chi Minh! Republicans are convinced that they’re all coming to get us. Knees are always a’knockin’ among Republicans.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Again, Left criticise govt but Labour was worse

Again, the Left is carping but the data under Labour was worse (from their viewpoint - not mine).

The NZ  Council of Christian Social Services collects a large amount of data and uses it to criticize the government.
What happens to people declined support? A total of 35,128 applications for ‘working age benefits’ were declined for the period July 2013 to September 2014. Collectively, this represents a comparatively large number of people who walked away from a Work and Income Office without the support they requested. 

This data isn't routinely published but I have some comparative figures from my own OIA requests. Note the NZCCS data is for 14.5 months - mine is for 12 months.

 Under a Labour government the number of sole parents declined a benefit was higher.

Labour creates a policy and then complains when it's implemented

From a CPAG paper about benefit sanctions:

Sanctions are not a new addition to the welfare legislation. They were part of Labour’s reforms to the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) in 2002, although at a time when the economy was adding jobs they attracted little attention. 

Yesterday Carmel Sepuloni issued a press release:

“Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions, affecting parents of children, were issued in 2014/15 than in the previous year. Sole parents fared the worst
“Being sanctioned is another way of saying ‘financially penalised’.
“Some of these families have sick or disabled children, some have just come out of abusive relationships and some have been left high and dry to look after children on their own.
“All of these parents have limited resources and are just trying to do the best that they can with very little constructive support from this government. Reducing their incomes even further can make it impossible.
In Labour's last year in government 23,000 sanctions were applied to work-tested benefits, including those with dependent children. Sanctions on the DPB were lower only because Labour didn't work-test that benefit. Sanctions could still be applied to the few thousand who had a Personal Development Employment Plan (PDEP).

In anticipation of requiring sole parents to be available for work,  National's Future Focus reforms 2010 limited the sanction for anyone with dependent children to only 50% of their benefit.

Back to Carmel Sepuloni:
“The truth is this government’s punitive approach is leading to entrenched poverty, not more jobs, and is hurting our children.”

The employment of sole parents is gradually improving,

As is child poverty,

Image result for nz child poverty rate

But if facts were allowed to get in the way, Labour would have little to moan about (I think there's an unintended pun in there somewhere.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Greens demand all rights and no responsibility

Yesterday the legislation necessary to extend youth service provision and attendant obligations was passed. The Greens put up the only opposition. From the NZ Herald

"Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said the party opposed the bill because of the paternalistic approach it took.
"We also have quite serious concerns about forcing single young people up to the age of 20 into a model with quite onerous accountability, based on the state's identification of them as at-risk young people."
There was a risk of arbitrary and unfair decision-making, Ms Sage said, and could lead to young people feeling stigmatised and resentful.
"This is a huge infringement on human rights by having the state determine which category you fall into, and therefore which services you should have access to."
The whole welfare state concept is paternalism writ large.

Attempts to reduce reliance on welfare - the youth service is achieving this - reduce paternalism.

Parents are paternalistic. They exercise authority over the individual. Over time they reduce their paternalism and the child assumes increasing amounts of self-responsibility. (Though I do note that if there is a parent letting their child run riot it's most likely to be a Green type preaching freedom of expression, so perhaps the demand that teenagers should get taxpayer money without obligations is at least consistent.)

As for feeling 'stigmatised and resentful', that's just the disincentive some people need.

And the last objection is utter BS.  How does WINZ decide which beneficiary requires employment help and which needs drug rehab without "infringing on human rights"? How does the public health system  diagnose and allocate treatment without "infringing on human rights"?

The Greens need to grow up.

Anyway, thumbs up to the other opposition parties that could see the sense in passing this legislation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Auckland Asian population

For no other reason than it is topical and it interests me, here is a breakdown of the Asian Auckland population at last census.

And this link takes you to a graphic that automatically refreshes by each census to show the Asian population density growth across Auckland. Watch it for a few seconds to get the feel of it. Unfortunately it only traverses 1996 to 2006. The screen probably couldn't have accommodated the next change.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MSD CE travel expenses

Latest MSD Chief Executive travel expenses have just been released.

I've charted them.

The year 2011-12 is missing because Peter Hughes finished and Brendan Boyle took over.

There is a clear trend though


I don't have time now to compare this to other CEs of government departments. But there is someone who can.