Saturday, June 06, 2009

One $ in six coming from welfare

As reported at the NCPA today;

The recession is driving the safety net of government benefits to a historic high, as 1 of every 6 dollars of Americans' income is now coming in the form of a federal or state check or voucher, says USA Today.

This prompted me to wonder how New Zealand compares. The best way to find out is through the NZ Income Survey. Unfortunately is only publishes yearly and the latest is last June 2008 - nearly a year ago. So the following will all have risen;

Of the average weekly income of all people aged 15 and over, one in 9 dollars ($8.88 to be specific) came from government transfers.

For Maori it climbs to one in six ($5.72)

For Pacific, one in six ($5.74)

For females, one in six ($5.65)

For males, one in fourteen ($14.07)

For one parent with dependent child(ren) only, one in three ($2.62)

So without the "bad economy" and high unemployment the US has experienced, our average female, Maori, or Pacific person matches their crisis-created one in six dollars welfare income. And single parents double it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Judge and CYF at odds

A judge remanded a 38 year-old mother in custody after she beat her son repeatedly with a soup ladle. But CYF wanted her bailed to continue to care for her other children. The judge turned that down and said he couldn't understand CYF's position. He intends to imprison the mother.

"Not enough is done about this sort of thing and this is an appalling assault on this poor boy," he said. "Imprisonment is inevitable."

The judge said he did not understand the position of Child, Youth and Family, which provided supporting evidence for the bail application.

"We have an epidemic in this country and this needs to be marked."

I would very much like to have heard more about CYF's supporting evidence. On the face of it I imagine CYF have supported bail because they believe the children are best left together, in their mother's care, for the time being. It may be that there is no ready alternative. It may be the alternative poses even greater risks. It may be that the mother has a particularly difficult relationship with the son but not the other children. But it frustrates me that we get statements like these from a judge set on sending a message. At the cost of the other children's wellbeing? Who is best placed to make that assessment. CYF or the judge?

This is in no way to be interpreted as a defensive comment regarding the woman's actions. They were reprehensible. But there is clearly a clash of interests at play, one that occurs frequently no doubt. Another judge who did "understand" CYF's position may very well have granted bail.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Significant risk factor for child abuse omitted

Media Release


Thursday, June 4, 2009

A report released today by the Children's Commissioner lists factors associated with fatal assault and serious injury of New Zealand children. The report is fairly comprehensive, welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said, but disappointingly fails to mention welfare dependence as a significant risk factor for the abuse and neglect of children.

"The overlap between Work and Income clients and CYF clients is documented. New Zealand research has revealed that care and protection notifications were 4 times more likely where children are living in a family relying on the DPB . US research showed that families receiving benefits accounted for 15 percent of Illinois children but 60 percent of cases referred to their child protection services."

"It seems to me that while identifying a factor like young maternal age as important, ignoring that most 16 and 17 year-old mothers (with children in their care) are welfare dependent is an omission. There can be no doubt that the availability of welfare benefits to very young people is a factor in their decision to have babies. Yet the report identifies their children as 8 times more likely to suffer serious assault."

"Other factors identified include exposure to non-biological parents and the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Both of these are exacerbated by welfare lifestyles whereby there is no necessity to commit to a partner or hold down a job."

"If welfare dependence is ignored there is no ensuing imperative to take any action in that arena. Unsurprisingly the report's recommendations revolve only around greater intervention after at-risk children are born. "

Data; At the end of March 2009 there were 683 female 16 and 17 year-old parents in receipt of the Emergency Maintenance Allowance.

Capital gains tax or status quo?

Treasury is proposing a capital gains tax. On reading the headline alone one would have every reason to think the Left would be jumping for joy. But read on to find a capital gains tax would be offset with drops in income and company tax. Treasury Secretary, John Whitehead;

"A key priority has to be reducing effective marginal tax rates and increasing the rewards for effort. There is a growing view that the high mobility of our skills base means high personal income taxes are especially harmful for New Zealand's growth and productivity," he said.

At the same time New Zealand's company tax rates are at the upper end of the scale by the standards of the OECD and other open, small economies. "The pressure on us will be even stronger if the review of Australia's tax system currently under way leads to further company tax cuts across the Tasman."

One of those classical 'classical liberal' dilemmas. What to support?

a/ the suggestion (because there will be less tax on individuals)
b/ the status quo (because any new tax should be opposed)

The cautionary aspect for me would be that whenever government changes the tax system it designs the changes in a way that delivers it more revenue. No reason to believe National would be any different given their commitment to leave big-ticket spending alone. And the state grows.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A first for parliament?

Has it crossed anyone else's mind that parliament might be about to witness its first case of what has plagued team sports, media celebrities and the police force periodically? On one hand I hope if Worth has (being reported) women problems they are genuine and on the other that they are not. Am I making sense? Let's hope we aren't in for a tawdry, drawn-out, unpleasantly detailed, display of he said/she said.

Some art for a change

As a self-taught artist one of the exercises I laboured over was copying. As Goldie is my favourite I chose one of his masterpieces to copy. Knowing more now than I did then, I paid no attention to the support and used a standard piece of uncoated canvas board. Goldie however coated his mounts with lead white which would conceal the texture of the canvas and produced a more fluid and flowing surface. A method I now favour.

Here is the original;

Ena Te Papatahi, a Chieftainess of the Ngapuhi Tribe, 1902

And my humble attempt....

Put up the qualifying age for Super

When the Old Age pension was introduced in 1898 the qualifying age was 65. At that time the life expectancy of males was 58.

111 years later, after life expectancy has risen by over twenty years, the qualifying age remains the same. It should go up. Key made a significant mistake in committing to keep it at 65.

And staying with the sensitive subject of Super, I didn't hear the interview but Phil Goff was apparently protesting yesterday on State Radio that, thanks to the suspension of the Cullen fund contributions, Maori would ending up paying for the Super needs of future generations because of their young population. I would advise against opening that can of worms Mr Goff. Maori are by a long shot the biggest users of working-age welfare and that usage is trending up. Analysis from around 2003 showed that the Maori economy was paying $2.4 billion in tax and receiving $2.3 billion in 'social benefits in cash'. It wouldn't be wise to go starting arguments about who is paying for who in Aoteoroa.

But it's funny isn't it? When it suits the socialists the song goes, "We're all in this together" and when it doesn't, fingers start being pointed. That's the problem with collective rights. They are never equal or fair.

New govt pushes NZ to No 1 spot

New Zealand is apparently the most peaceful nation in the world.

The rest of the world must be in pretty bad shape.

But this caught my attention;

The report, which surveyed 144 countries, says New Zealand's rise to first is partly explained by the election of a National-Act coalition last year.

"The centre-right National Party has a strong popular mandate and a robust parliamentary majority by New Zealand's standards, putting the new Prime Minister, John Key, in a good position to push through his agenda."

He has an agenda? Apart from managing the economy and public sector better?

I was talking to a friend in the US a couple of days back and we were reflecting on the similarities between the political honeymoon's of Obama and Key. People here were so glad to see the back of Clark (likewise Bush), Key can do anything. More precisely, stuff that was unpopular when Helen was boss is OK under Key. Image and personality trump action.

I can't help but suspect that if New Zealand is the most 'peaceful' it is because New Zealanders are the most apathetic, gullible, dullards.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Maori single parents on benefits

The number of single parents on welfare is rising.

At Feb 2005 there were 102,350 on a main benefit (DPB, invalid,sickness or unemployment). At March 2009 there are 105,448. Not a huge rise - 3 percent - but a reversal in trend.

And the ethnic make-up has changed again.

2005 Maori = 39%
2009 Maori = 42%

2005 NZ European = 41%
2009 NZ European = 37%

2005 Pacific = 9%
2009 Pacific = 10%

2005 Other/Unspecified = 11%
2009 Other/Unspecified = 11%

We now have two influential Maori role models - Metiria Turei and Paula Bennett - who spent some years bettering themselves on the DPB. This legitimises and promotes taking advantage of a spell on the DPB to improve one's circumstances. Which has to be better than the alternative - getting stuck in a rut where turning out children becomes an income-increasing habit. But some thinking to follow the former route will end up on the latter. Others have no plan at all. The statistics tell us this is the case.

Best all round if they avoid welfare in the first place.

"We thought we'd got rid of you for the weekend"

The Manawatu Standard has the story behind a QSM recipient, Lew Findlay, who richly deserves the recognition. One of his efforts was setting up a volunteer organisation called Street Van which works to get kids off the streets and home on Friday and Saturday nights.

Standing in The Square, Mr Findlay mused on how much the city has changed. Glue sniffing and solvent abuse wasn't the problem it was 15 years ago today's problems were alcohol and drug fuelled.

"P and marijuana, and RTDs. They're everywhere."

He has a simple recipe to fix most of society's woes. It is that parents should love their kids.

He's lost count of the times young teens have been delivered home by Street Van volunteers, to be greeted with a blast from parents who couldn't care less.

"Twelve- and 14-year-olds being told, what are you doing back here? We thought we'd got rid of you for the weekend."

It'd make you cry.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Shocking death

I subscribe to the Feminist Majority Foundation and just received this e-mail from their President. It is shocking and terribly sad;

George Tiller, who endured countless threats, an assassination attempt, bombings and assaults on his clinic, and many legal challenges by anti-abortion extremists was murdered in his church by such an extremist today.

I am greatly saddened by his death and by the loss of a friend to me and countless women, but I am also outraged that this could have happened again. I and the Feminist Majority Foundation had the privilege of knowing and working with Dr. Tiller over the last two decades. He was a courageous, unassuming, and soft-spoken man who cared deeply about his patients and about women's rights and lives. He knew his life was in danger, but continued to provide vitally needed healthcare services to women when few others would.

Dr. Tiller expected no accolades - he was doing what he knew was right and medically needed. However, he deeply appreciated the gratitude he received from his patients and pro-choice supporters nationwide. I am glad so many of us had the opportunity to thank him -- He deserved it.

Forget the Third Way

Forget the Third Way. Next up is the Golden Rule. It is apparently France's creative response to the ongoing class wars and the so-called 'failure of capitalism';

There is an inner circle in the Elysee Palace, very close to the President, that is launching trial balloons to prepare ground-breaking legislation for a Golden Rule for a sort of purified, moralised, benevolent and above all New Capitalism to end all class wars. Its cornerstone would be the Rule of Three, meaning roughly that profit would not belong to the owner (e.g. the shareholders) of an enterprise, but would have to be divided into three equal parts, one for dividends, one for the wage-earners and one for investment. The future profit yielded by this investment would again fall under the Rule of Three, and so on to eternity. This would serve a "more just distribution of wealth".

Good God. It's almost obscene. Read the entire column here.