Saturday, July 29, 2006

Better safe? Better sane.

Here's a really over-the-top story about airport security;

Bugs Bunny sparks security alert

A girl of six triggered a security scare at an airport – with a pink Bugs Bunny water pistol rammed full of sweets.

Kelly Vinnicombe was bought the £2.50 toy in the departure lounge by her mother Sarah, and packed it in her bag.

But, as they went through the X-ray security machine, guards hauled them to one side.

It’s bright pink with Bugs Bunny on it

Ms Vinnicombe, 34, was told the toy was technically a 'weapon' and would have to be registered at the firearms desk.

She spent an hour explaining where the gun came from – just metres away in an airport shop – before the toy was tagged and packed in a separate part of the plane.

Ms Vinnicombe, of Plymouth, Devon, said: 'It's bright pink with Bugs Bunny on it.'

The pair were reunited with their cargo at Heathrow Airport after an 11-hour flight.

A Cape Town airport spokeswoman insisted: 'It's is better to be safe than sorry.'

What to believe?

There's one heck of a lot of stuff flying around at the moment in relation to family violence.

The newly created Taskforce for Action Against Violence in Families has issued its first report which said, family violence was happening in families of all cultures, classes, backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances, and the predominant pattern was male violence directed at a female partner.

Yet that claim has been rebutted many times. Only recently Professor David Fergusson, who has published many papers from his long-term study of a group of Christchurch children, said the violence was directed in both directions.

And criminologist Greg Newbold wrote in his book, Crime in New Zealand (2000);

"Women assault their husbands at least as often as the reverse, and many studies suggest that women assault spouses more often than men. However, women are injured or killed more often by their spouses than men are."

I suppose people will believe what they want to believe. But given the government are going to spend $14 million on a national awareness campaign I sincerely hope it isn't going to be a load of propaganda.

Finally, Peter Hughes, defending the campaign says, "New Zealand has a high tolerance of violence. It has to change." He likened domestic violence to drink-driving, smoking and not wearing seatbelts which were normal 20 years ago but unacceptable today.

Well here's the bad news. Truckloads of people are still smoking and still drinking and driving.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Run that past me again...

Of course if you want to get covered you have to say something radical. It doesn't have to be true......

From the Herald, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the report showed that child deaths peaked in the late 1980s and 1990s when unemployment also peaked and benefits were cut.

And from the DomPost, Maori Party leader Tariana Turia said New Zealand's situation in terms of poverty and child abuse was fast approaching a "national emergency".

This latest CYF report made it clear child deaths were inextricably linked with socio-economic disadvantage, she said. "It's time for the Government to wake up to the reality of economic violence."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Economic violence" to blame says Turia

CYF has released a report into Child Death from Maltreatment. Unfortunately the statistics only go to 2003. This is Tariana Turia's press release on the matter;

“It’s time for the Government to wake up to the reality of economic violence” said Mrs Turia.

Economic violence is when people are impoverished by being deprived of access to power and resources, putting human dignity at danger.

“This latest report makes it quite clear - the peak in child deaths was from late 1980s and 1990s - the so-called experimental years in New Zealand’s economy - when unemployment was highest and when benefits were cut” says Mrs Turia.

Here are two charts from the report. Whatever is "clear" to Ms Turia is not to me.

(The report repeatedly cautions using these figures to discern trends because such small changes in the absolute number substantially alters the rate of child death.)

What Aucklanders think about Wellingtonians

An excerpt from Jane Clifton's laugh-out-loud book, Political Animals;

Judge finds for biological mother

This is an interesting ruling from the UK:

Two young sisters taken away from their biological mother and handed over to her former lesbian partner must be given back, the Law Lords ruled today.

I just sigh when I read stuff like this. Why can't parents get their act together and stop pushing and pulling kids between pillar and post.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A very weak argument

Mr Edridge again. Speaking at the Every Child Counts conference today, urging repeal of section 59;

It was a matter of consistency, Mr Edridge said.

"We have a domestic violence act that has a zero tolerance towards violence and yet we have a crimes act that says you can use force against your children," he said.

Is violence between adults increasing or abating? Despite laws criminalising adults using force against adults, violence between them continues to escalate.

Going around in circles

I lost faith in government's ability to solve social problems long ago. But here is a sobering reminder about how administration after administration come up with catch phrases that are supposed to be cure-alls but cure nothing.

"In the 1995 Budget statements....a new catchphrase came into currency - 'Strengthening Families' - with special programmes to counter child abuse and young offending. This builds on the emphasis on families which had been a persistent theme since 1991."
Judith A Davey.

Kiro's grand plan

First consider this. Children's Commissioner, Cindy Kiro has a grand plan;

Every child would be interviewed or assessed before age two and again at ages five, 13, and 17. The interviews would assess children's strengths and possible areas for intervention, including truancy.

"The key thing is that in that one-on-one time you're getting a picture of what's going on for that child and what the things that really drive and interest them are," Dr Kiro said.

State intervention was possible where there were "major care and protection issues".

Now consider this (it was published in yesterday's DomPost under "Risk repeating history"):

Dear Editor

In the late eighties New Zealand apparently experienced an epidemic of child sexual abuse. During 1988 an advertising campaign culminating in a telethon centred on the claim that one in four girls would be victims before they turned 18. Lynley Hood, in "A City Possessed", has demonstrated how figures had been gradually over-inflated and the whole issue hyped-up.

I fear we are in danger of repeating history with current claims of a child abuse epidemic. Murray Edridge, Barnados CE, wrote (July 22) that last year, "64,000 children were likely to have been abused or neglected". This is a misinterpretation of the CYF notification statistics.

Just over 16,000 children came to the attention of CYF in the past year. Only a quarter of the number above.

In truth there is no way of knowing how many children are abused or neglected. But if Mr Edridge wants to have the "informed" debate he calls for, this isn't the way.

As happened in the 70s and 80s, there is a risk suspicion is cast too widely and an atmosphere of fear and distrust develops. Especially amongst people with greater state-invested power than perfectly good parents.

Lindsay Mitchell

Today there is an Every Child Counts conference in Wellington where Murray Edridge and Cindy Kiro will speak. Another leftist get-together to talk about child poverty and abuse. I am not a conspiracy theorist but the way this business is developing is quite clear to me.

Mixed bag at hui

What was I saying yesteday about the state replacing the father...
here's someone else saying the same thing.

Manurewa training provider Frank Solomon also criticised the benefit system. It encouraged young couples to split so that one could get the domestic purposes benefit.

"We are told by our students that they get more money if they live separately, so we then face the fact that our tane [men] are not with our tamariki [children] to provide that leadership and mentoring and modelling as a father," he said.

Unfortunately other people reported at the hui to tackle child abuse held yesterday in Mangere, were calling for more of the same - more government money and yet another helpline.

Some communities have become mini-matriarchies. Something I read from the Cato Institute. Women control much of the power through the welfare payments. Women dominate the social worker classes and most of the schools.

So expect matriarchal solutions to problems. What made me remember that?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dragging on

There are more accusations flying around in the Kahui case than a game of Cluedo.

The aunties say a male from the "tight twelve" did it. Then a male, purporting to be from the tight twelve (which there is no such thing as, he insists) says it's the parents, "Who else could it be?" (I heard his call to the Tamihere/Jackson show). Now the Grandma says it's a female, she knows it in her heart. I wonder who is next?

What a sick joke this is turning into.

UK Child Support Agency

The shambolic UK Child Support Agency is about to go under. In terms of failure to collect debt our's is pretty much in the same boat.

What amazes me is that anybody believes a child support system, operating alongside the benefit system, can ever run smoothly and successfully or more "simply". On one hand the government usurps the father by replacing him and on the other hand they want his money to do the job. What a mess.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Towards the centre

Judging by Vernon Small's coverage of National's conference, policy appears to be moderating and pulling to the centre but Don Brash still has more radical ideas. Small writes, "Yet even as the party prepares a softer policy suite, Dr Brash is musing about radical tax reform. Lately he has been examining negaitve (or reverse) taxation, which would deliver a payment up to $9,000 at zero income."

Perhaps he has been reading Charles Marray's latest book, In Our Hands.

As for the rest, Simon Power talking about "reducing crime, not locking up younger and younger people for longer", Judith Collins "strong on intervention", Nick Smith "showing how thinking has moved on from the privatisation and corporatisation agendas" - sounds like National of old. Managers.

And when you think about it, if all we really want is the problems managed instead of sorted, Labour aren't that bad at it.

Admitting mistakes

This post isn't an endorsement of government-funded relationship programmes. What interests (and frustrates) me is the contrast between NZ and US willingness to acknowledge the effect of welfare on the family structure;

From 2005 through 2010, the Baltimore Building Strong Families (BSF) program will be gathering information from 650 couples to see whether it provides the right combination of words, images, services and counseling sessions to help the couples commit to each other and their children for the long haul.

The trick will be doing this in neighborhoods where trust is low, talk is cheap, sex is plentiful and weddings are rare.

For more than 60 years, the nation offered public assistance to single mothers -- with an emphasis on the word "single." Generations of welfare mothers warned each other about letting a man stay too long -- "a man in the house" meant forfeiture of a mother's public housing, cash benefits, Medicaid and other government benefits.

Not surprisingly, marriage all but disappeared in poor communities. Welfare mothers had boyfriends, not husbands; their children had visiting "daddies" who showed up with Pampers, not fathers who came home from work every day, played with them and protected them.

PATHS (Providing Access to Health Solutions)

When the government launched this programme I was against it because it meant beneficiaries would be queue-jumped over other people waiting for operations and I also questioned why ACC were bumping people onto sickness or invalid benefits instead of dealing with their health problems. It would be better to deal with people only recently incapacitated than spend the money on those who have been long-term beneficiaries. However, the scheme went ahead.

Now, according to National, the scheme has cost $18,000 for each beneficiary it has got into a job. Judith Collins is attacking that saying a scheme that cost $2.7 million and has only helped 0.1% of sickness and invalid beneficiaries into work is an "extremely expensive experiment".

But only a very small number were put through it.

IF the 151 people stay in work $18,000 apiece is worth it. It's probably less than one year's benefit payment. That's how Labour will sell it and how the public will see it.

And it's interesting to note that when the programme was launched in 2004, Katherine Rich, then social services spokeswoman, called upon the government to introduce the measures nationwide as soon as possible.

She said,"It's something that would work immediately. It is something that could get potentially productive people back into the workforce and has to be a priority for the government."

As attacks go this wasn't a very strong one from Judith Collins.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Herbie again

Haven't blogged any art for a while. I'd almost forgotten about this pair of paintings. The gallery they were in has moved. The second sold but I had to pick up the first last week. Had some good news yesterday. Two still-lifes, which were a departure in style and subject for me, were accepted for the Academy Galleries Winter Exhibition which opens Friday. Fingers crossed they might sell.

Quote of the day

"Had you spoken thus in the old time, when the traders and grog-sellers came - had you turned them away, then you could well say to the Governor, "Go Back", and it would have been correct, straight, and I would have also said with you, "Go Back" - yes, we together as one man, one voice.

But now, as things are, no, no, no. What did we do before the Pakeha came? We fought, we fought continually. But now we can plant our grounds, and the Pakeha will bring plenty of trade to our shores. Then let us keep him here. Let us all be friends together. I am walking beside the Pakeha. I'll sign...."

Tamati Waka Nene (Nga Puhi) urging that the Treat of Waitangi be signed.

(Source; Maori & Alcohol: A History, Marten Hutt)