Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's pathetic

If you are ever tempted to think governments have made progress in social welfare over the past decade (other than employment which is actually attributable to the private sector), forget it.

Here's a piece from the Jobsletter June 1995;

The Compass programme run by the Income Support Service is also hoping to reduce the numbers of single parents on the DPB by getting them back to work. The Christchurch pilot programme was last week featured on TV3 news and showed that of the 300 beneficiaries on the programme, a third are now off the benefit, and 25% of these have gone into employment. Budget night funding announcements will mean that every office of Income Support around the country will soon have a Compass co-ordinator. Programme organisers are predicting that Compass may help cull the DPB rolls by 30,000 people.

That year there were 102,000 people on the DPB. Today there are 102,000 people on the DPB.

But wait...there's more...

In spite of a drop in unemployment benefits, the government faces a constant and dramatic growth in other benefits, particularly with people on sickness and invalid benefits and the domestic purposes benefit.

Peter Gresham has announced that from September, beneficiaries will be given regular medical check-ups (paid for by the State), in an effort to reduce the numbers on the long-term benefits and encourage them back to work. Social Welfare says that applicants for the sickness benefit would have their initial test done by their GP. A second check would be required four weeks after the benefit was granted, then after three months the beneficiary would be required to be examined by an accredited doctor. The checks would be carried out yearly from then on. On Budget night, the Government estimated that tougher screening would save 5% of the current cost, or $60m, over the next three years by moving people from the sickness and invalid benefits on to the dole.

At that time there were 74,000 people on the sickness and invalid benefits. Today there are 122,000.

The government should STOP doing whatever it is they do. They just manage to make matters worse.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Two in three say no

A Waikato Times Stuff poll today asks;

Work on a new Ibis Hotel started in central Hamilton this week, with the Hamilton City Council one of three partners in the venture. Is this a role you like seeing the council in, property development?

67.4 percent say NO

Local government is a law unto itself.

Nanny's "great little cookbook"

Gardening and cooking skills are not being passed down. That's what WINZ staff have noticed. It's true but let's not kid ourselves the loss is confined to beneficiaries.

People grew their own veges because they needed to make their small incomes go further and/or they enjoyed the process and liked eating homegrown produce. People cooked because they had to. Some did it well, some did it adequately and others badly. Some enjoy it, some don't.

Times have changed. Ready to eat food is cheap. Go to the right places and veges are cheap (if you are interested in eating them).

But cooking and growing veges takes time which many people don't have (notice the gorgeous gardens of retired folk). Beneficiaries ironically do have the time but why should we expect them to behave differently from the rest of society? Especially those who have chosen not to work for a living.

Skills and a love for doing things are passed down through families. Stuff the family and you stuff that process. Make people reliant and they will lose their iniative. This is just another example of government screwing things up and then trying to fix it.

Of course the "great little cookbook" will be touted a raging success because everybody will take one home. Why not? After all, it's "free".

UPDATE; Shameless. I said it would happen but with such unseemly haste??? David Benson-Pope says Great Little Cookbook going like hotcakes.

UPDATE 2; The demand for the "beneficiary cookbook" (as described in the DomPost) is so overwhelming it is going to be put on a website. Seems to me there is a slight problem there. Can you spot it?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

media release

Thursday, August 17, 2006

This month the US celebrates ten years of welfare reform.

Lindsay Mitchell, welfare commentator said, "They are celebrating because each of the aims of reform has been realised. Child poverty has fallen, employment has increased and the rate of out-of-wedlock child-bearing has been arrested."

"In particular the decline in dependence has been strong in the group with the greatest tendency to stay on benefits the longest - young uneducated single mothers."

"The Heritage Foundation has shown that during the late 1990s employment of never-married mothers increased by nearly 50 percent, of single mothers who are high school drop-outs by 66 percent, and of young single mothers (ages 18 to 24) by nearly 100 percent."

"Meanwhile New Zealand has had very little success in persuading women off the DPB. In the five years to June 2006 the total number dropped by only 5 percent. At this rate it will take another 93 years to get back to where we were when the DPB emergency benefit was transformed into a statutory entitlement in 1973."

"Sadly the percentage of 18 and 19 year-olds has risen which indicates that the overall number will not continue to drop as these teenagers typically stay on welfare the longest."

"The percentage of recipients who have a current earnings certificate has also dropped indicating fewer are working part-time."

"It is terribly depressing that New Zealand has neither the political will nor energy to emulate the US reforms. The government can see what needs to be done but simply refuses to act. I hope that this isn't merely anti-Americanism at work. The cost of Labour's failure to deal with the social disintegration that so often comes with long-term reliance on welfare is not worth paying."


This is a shocker, really. It distresses me to read about a good man going to prison for four years for breaking an illogical law.

It's too late

This is Wiremu's story. He's 16, already has 60 charges for theft and assault against him and thinks he will probably go to prison after he turns 17. Two things stand out.

There is no mention of any family (unless you count the relative that taught him how to break into cars).

He says he has too much time on his hands.

I've met kids like this. They say what you want to hear, like, they want to do a building apprenticeship, and then in the next breath they have to remind you how wicked they are. They are basically amoral.

The odds are it's too late for this kid. He is telling us there will be more victims and we are letting him run free and probably even paying him a benefit to boot. How sick is that?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who is this?

Don't cheat.

Update; The DomPost's Last Word has also noticed Sue's transformation. Asked to comment Ms Bradford said it's the result of having a good hairdresser and valuable make-up advice from her daughter. I thought I'd try out my seven year-old daughter for make-up advice. "Don't wear any," she said, taking another bite of toast and marmite.

You learn something every day...

....some of it totally useless.

I didn't know Billy Joel (not a human rights activist) wrote "Big shot" about Bianca Jagger and nor did I know that Bianca Jagger is a human rights activist. Here she is writing in the Scotsman. She should get it together with Bob Geldof. Or Bono. Bob, Bono and Bianca (but not Billy).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Love thy criminal"

The justice system reforms announced today are purportedly about keeping more criminals out of jail.

Back in 2002 the government decided to lock criminals up for longer, which is what has happened. Now, Clark says, recorded crime is at its lowest level in 20 years (true).

So why stop doing what is working? Unless, in fact, it isn't.

Actual prosecuted charges have risen by 5 percent over the past ten years so locking people up for longer doesn't appear to be deterring criminals. The idea of building more prisons isn't publicly popular so, what the hell. Labour says, let's take our chances keeping them in the community or at home.

It's the public I'm worried about. Garth McVicar doesn't mince his words;

But in a scathing attack the Sensible Sentencing Trust has accused the Government as being heartless and cruel to victims. Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said. "This is more of the same old, "love thy criminal and screw the victim", policies we have had for the last thirty years".

Katrina baby boom

What to make of this. According to the LA Times a Baby Boom Adds Life to Rebirth of New Orleans. A surge in Katrina babies is especially noticeable with fewer hospitals open. Medical staff and parents see the children as signs of hope.

This is conveyed as a feel-good story about close couples.

But as I understand it New Orleans has an out-of-wedlock birthrate of 60 percent, and amongst teenagers, 96 percent. It is one of the poorest cities with forty percent of adults functionally illiterate and a very high school drop-out rate.

According to Michael Tanner, Cato's welfare specialist, Louisianna is also one of the few states that still has a generous welfare system with no cap on benefits for additional children born out-of-wedlock.

Welfare state makes us less happy

James Bartholomew writes on his blog about how the welfare state has made us less happy;

We live now in a society where the government controls more and more of our lives. It robs us of a sense that we are the ones who run our own lives. It takes away a certain dignity and, through that, it takes away some of our contentment.

The psychological impact (not to mention the cultural impact) of the welfare state has been enormous. It deserves far more study than the academic world has yet given it.

You don't say

Doctors are being urged to take a tougher approach in signing accident victims off work.

The Accident Compensation Corporation wants to reduce the amount of time some injured claimants have off work - for their own benefit and to save money.

"It's well recognised that work is something that keeps people healthy," said ACC's interim manager of health purchasing, Anne O'Connell.

That's rich. Tell it to WINZ. The number of people on a sickness or invalid benefit is 299 per 10,000 of population.

40 years ago the rate was 39 per 10,000.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"The enemy within"

The subject is obvious in this excerpt from a Times editorial, The enemy within;

Why is Britain such a breeding ground for these young men, for that is what most of them are? Much can be ascribed to timidity on behalf of the authorities, wedded as they are to a multiculturalism that isolates many young men in ghettos and a reluctance to espouse British values through our schools and institutions. That appeasement was epitomised by the sanctuary offered to extremist Islamic groups in Britain — “Londonistan” — in the pathetic hope that it might offer some form of immunity from violence. The United States, with its intolerant attitude to those preaching hate, has been far more successful in integrating its Muslim citizens, offering them the ideals of patriotism and progress. Even France, which has a bigger Muslim population than Britain and has had its share of troubles with disaffected youth, has not seen the scale of Islamist treachery that we are experiencing here. MI5 believes up to 400,000 people in Britain are sympathetic to violent “jihad” around the world and that as many as 1,200 are involved in terrorist networks.

Gay intolerance

intolerance has many faces. There are apparently gay people who criticise their gay friends, who enter into a civil union, for "selling out" to "heteronormativity". I'm struggling to understand this. Does that mean some gays really want to be different - it's the being different that's most important? But being in a de facto relationship gay or straight is hardly remarkable any more.

I supported civil unions because I couldn't see why people who want to make a formal committment to each other should be excluded. It comes as something of a disappointment to learn that their existence has created a new problem. Why can't people live and let live? That's what gays have always asked society for. But it seems some can't accord the same to each other. Double standards.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Idol picks 2

As in past years NZ Idol went north and improved. I got a minor buzz then a major one.

Victor is a bright kid and a fast learner. He will go through.

Indira is something else. Her version of Taylor Dayne's Love Will Lead You Back was just gorgeous. As soon as she finished I wanted to hear it again. Shades of Randy Crawford's trueness, Vanessa William's tonality and Gladys Knight's warmth.

Hailing from a reportedly highly disciplined Tongan family, her mum and dad looked on, beamed and hooted, and cried just a tad. This former Miss Tonga competitor is much better suited to a real talent show.

What is Libertarian?

There's as good brief piece at the Institute for Humane Studies about what is Libertarian? It may have been there a while but I have only become aware of it since the Freedom Foundation put up a link. One definition given, and I like for its simplicity, is this;

Liberals favor government action to promote equality, whereas conservatives favor government action to promote order. Libertarians favor freedom and oppose government action to promote either equality or order.