Saturday, October 27, 2007

Collateral damage

Children killed through war on drugs. This is Detroit but it could have been Wanganui.

Child killings challenge the drug war

Take your pick of who to blame for the apparent drug-related execution of Alexus Eppinger, 9, and her five-year-old brother Terrance as they lay sleeping in a Detroit home last week. There are plenty of targets to choose from.

Maybe you blame their mother for not having the instincts God gives a goose to protect her children. That's cold, I know, since she was slain, too. I'm sure she loved her babies. But you have to do more than love children; you have to keep them from danger, and putting them to bed in a house known for drug activity is dangerous.

Or maybe you're angry with the city and its police department for their impotence in containing the wave of drug violence that continues to claim the lives of innocents. I'm with you. It doesn't matter how many new lofts Detroit builds or how many new clubs open downtown, if its children are fair game for shoot-em-up maniacs, Detroit isn't a fit place for decent people to live.

The drug dealers? Sure. Anyone so numbed by greed that he can pull the trigger on a gun pointed at a child doesn't qualify as human. He's a beast, and there's too damn many like him walking our streets.

But my pick is a drug war that's turned our cities into battle zones and provided irresistible incomes for the most sinister elements of our society.

You want to know why kids are being killed in Detroit? Because drug dealing is a $100 billion enterprise in the United States. All of that money moves through the criminal underground, where it is untaxed, unregulated and untraceable.

The only way to stop the drug trade from consuming our children and our communities is to take the profit out of selling dope.

For more than 30 years, we've tried to do that by kicking in doors, rounding up street corner dealers, cutting off international supply lines and filling our prisons. And it hasn't worked.

It will never work. Those determined to destroy themselves with drugs will find a way to do so, just as those who prefer to ruin their lives with alcohol or gambling, vices the government decided that, if we can't beat 'em, we might as well tax 'em.

So let's get the drugs off the street and into the pharmacies where they belong. Pick a variety of narcotics, from marijuana to heroin, and sell them in measured doses over-the-counter, like packaged liquor.

Move the drug money from the alleys to Wall Street. Let the pharmaceutical companies produce, sell and pay taxes on narcotics.

Perhaps we'll have more users when drugs are no longer illegal. But legalizing drugs will allow rehabilitation resources to be focused on those who truly have a problem, and create more funding for anti-drug education.

A drug-free America is an impossible dream. Our stubborn determination to press this lost cause is killing people.

If it were just the dope dealers who were dying, I'd say have at it. That's addition by subtraction.

But in Detroit we've seen the collateral damage of this misguided war.

When babies die in their beds, we have to start challenging the premises of the drug war, and asking whether the fight is worth the cost.

Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The Detroit News.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What the?

In this strange world of divergent realities, threats that are then claimed to be jokes, rehearsals which are claimed to be mere role-playing, I received a letter yesterday telling me to renounce crimes of the Crown or await my arrest. It was sent to me because I am guilty of standing as a electoral candidate at the last election. It isn't easy to understand what the papers, which appear to have been filed in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, mean, but I gather they are from a Maori group who do not recognise the Crown. As an endorser of the Crown, by my action of seeking to become an MP, I now owe over $3 million or will spend 122 years in jail.

Anybody else received such a letter?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

By a country mile....

Stuff Poll

Which politician would be the most formidable opponent in a fight?

Trevor Mallard (180 votes, 2.9%)

Tau Henare (934 votes, 15.1%)

Helen Clark (839 votes, 13.6%)

Rodney Hide (3657 votes, 59.2%)

Peter Dunne (30 votes, 0.5%)

Parekura Horomia (323 votes, 5.2%)

Jeanette Fitzsimons (212 votes, 3.4%)

Stuff polls are not scientific and reflect the opinions of only those internet users who have chosen to participate

Results of not paying attention to detail

This is quite startling. Rick Giles, who sometimes comments here, has been arrested in the US and is being held in jail awaiting deportation. He was apparently working in Canada but visiting the US and asked a cop for directions.

Some of you may have noticed the absence of Rick Giles from this forum for the last month or so. He is not on vacation; he has not given up, or left in a huff. He is in jail, and has been since the 26th or 27th of September. He has been in prison, without arrest, without trial, without legal recourse or appeal, for almost a month. And why? What heinous crime, you might ask, warrants being thrown into jail with no rights, no information, and no idea how long he’ll be incarcerated? Well, the combined crimes of not being a US citizen and misreading the date on his tourist visa.
Rick was asking directions to the bus station, as pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross the border into Canada, on the 26th of last month. Instead of helping, the policeman took his ID, checked his visa, and found that instead of expiring on the 27th, as Rick believed, it expired on the 20th. He was taken into custody, and has been there ever since.

On sexual abuse

I didn't really want to post about this but I can't get past it.

A new international survey has found one in four New Zealand girls is sexually abused before the age of 15, the highest rate of any country examined.

To be honest I am surprised that the figures are as low as they are. That 76.5 percent of girls did not experience any unwanted sexual touching before age 15.

That is not because I believe many men are sexual abusers. But one can spread himself around.

I have tried to estimate how many men or boys I came in contact with before the age of fifteen who had the opportunity to provide me with a positive answer to the question the survey asked. With three brothers, a father, uncles, great uncles and grandfathers, cousins, family friends, school mates and teachers I suppose the number must be over 100. I only ever encountered one. And I expect he messed with more very young girls than just me.

So what really worries me about the reaction to these sorts of 'horrific' findings is that suspicion is cast far and wide. 'Experts' are already telling parents and caregivers what signs to look for. People get hold of a statistics like, one in four females are sexually abused and mostly by their uncles and start looking sideways at completely innocent boys and men. Why, I expect many male readers of this blog are themselves uncles.

Let's not let 'uncle' become a dirty word. If there is a pervasive problem in young peoples lives today, girls and boys, it is a lack of warm and positive relationships with male figures.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Income equality does not equal happiness equality

National and Labour have produced two Ms Averages. National's is a single woman who is earning more but not getting ahead - Labour's is a partnered woman with two children who is better off.

Labour's redistributive philosophy is about achieving income equality - or trying to make incomes as 'average' as possible. Which reminded me of a passage I read last week. It comes from a US professor who says there are things beyond income that people care about - sometimes a great deal more. Love, faith and happiness for instance. As he puts it;

If greater income equality is our end goal, bringing the top down is as useful as bringing the bottom up, says Brooks. This is about as sensible as depressing the happy for the sake of the sad. There is no doubt the egalitarians among our politicians and pundits want the best for America. But to focus on inequality -- and then only inequality in income -- creates policies based on either rank materialism or raw envy. These motivations do little to inspire, and even less to lead.

Under income equality-driven policies many people become frustrated, resentful, demotivated and plain unhappy. The best approach is for government to leave people alone as much as possible. Tax them at a low flat rate and leave how they run their social and economic lives up to them. Decisions made unfettered by government policies will necessarily be better ones because their consequences are real - not subject to the whim of the next populist policy-maker who comes along.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Panties for Peace"

Are they serious????

Document removed

I see MSD have realised their error and removed the Annual Report Word Document containing extensive editing notation from their site. A couple of addresses were (typically) at my site this morning so I am not surprised. I thought it was rather charitable of me to let them know given their own ungenerous approach to information-sharing.

How useful is the HLFS?

The Household Labour Force Survey is the source for our official unemployment rate. Sixteen thousand households are surveyed quarterly.

Being 'employed' is defined by working 1 or more hours in a week.

Employed: All persons in the working-age population who during the reference week worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment; or worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned or operated by a relative; or had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

In September 2006 the HLFS data showed that 43 percent of one parent with dependent children only households had no-one employed.

Yet my OIA data shows 107,000 single parents with dependent children were on some form of benefit. According to the Census data from only six months earlier there were 145,000 such families.

Allowing for very slight variation due to information gathered in different months, this provides an unemployment rate of 74 percent. Of course some on benefits are also working part-time but typically only around 1 in 5. That would drop the rate to about 59 percent. Still well above 43 percent.

Which probably shows the nonsense of using one or more hours paid employment as the official definition for being 'employed'.

The HLFS is useful - for those who would paint a rosier picture than is really the case.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We should be very angry

This story from the front page of the Dominion Post really got to me. How many parents will look at the photo and think, there but for the grace of God... These frigging thugs need severely dealing with. They behave like they do because they know there are no substantial consequences, and what there are mean nothing. They have little to lose in their scummy lives. Then again, they might even get their photos in the papers as Uncle Pita and Aunty Tariana make excuses for them.

God help me if I had to attend a family group conference with any kids that had hurt one of mine like this. No doubt, if they find the attackers the authorities will want the victim to face them so they can 'appreciate' what they have done. So they can learn something. It'll still be about them and not the beaten young man, Oliver Mace, who, if he recovers his memory, will probably still be feeling frightened and sick to his back teeth over the violence. This 'humane' approach to justice has to stop. It's become inhumane.

When it's Labour Day every day

New Zealanders work too hard, whines Labour MP Darien Fenton. If Darien stopped to think about it Labour gave us the expansive welfare state. Fifty years Labour refused to entertain warnings that some New Zealanders would take advantage of universal taxpayer-funded benefits. Fifty years ago under 5,000 working age people relied on the state, mostly invalids and widows. Today the number is around 260,000 or ten percent of the working age population.

Does it occur to Darien that some New Zealanders are going to have to work harder to support those that chose not to?

Apart from which, people should be free to work as hard as they damn well like without sticky beak calling for the government to restrict their hours. What she should be calling for is people's ability to keep more of what they produce to use as they see fit. She might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Labour then...Labour now

In 1945 Labour Minister of Works Bob Semple said of newly introduced benefits,

"There is a duty, too, on individuals to respond to a benevolent government that does that, and to pull their weight....Malingering on the job, stupid stop-work meetings, and all kinds of 'monkey tricks' played on industry will not help to make this measure a success...A country can only survive and prosper and retain humanitarian measures if every man, woman and child contributes his quota to the common weal. They must put their shoulders to the tasks allotted to them and pull their weight...If they regard this as something sacred which will give the rest of the world a lead, they will work as they have never worked before."

In 2007, Labour MP Darien Fenton says,

“As New Zealanders enjoy the Labour Day weekend, we need to take a moment to pause and reflect on the expectations of today’s Labour market. Long hours, shift and weekend work, unpaid overtime and in many cases, insecure hours have become entrenched in New Zealand working conditions and that’s not good enough”.