Saturday, September 12, 2009

CYF attempting to reap kudos?

This is a bad judgement call from CYF.

Anybody taking an interest in this case will speculate on CYF's involvement. Nobody will ever be able to conclusively say whether or not the removal of the children saved their lives. It may have aggravated circumstances and more deeply endangered the life of the mother. Nobody knows.

So CYF should have stayed quiet. To do otherwise suggests they are attempting to either justify their actions or positively politicise them. As if management thought, at last, a case that shows us in a good light. Let's make the most of it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dependency growing on all fronts

In the past ten weeks the number on the DPB has increased by 2,240 from 104,400 to 106,640.

At this rate, within the year, the DPB will easily exceed its highest ever total of 113,329 in 1998.

The Sickness and Invalid's benefits have both increased also.

Naturally the largest increase is on the Unemployment Benefit which is up 8,296 from 50,855 to 59,151.

The reason we need to be very concerned about the DPB, SB and IB is those benefits are harder to get people off. Dole numbers will drop as the economy improves. We saw that happen under Labour. But there is absolutely no guarantee of that happening with the other benefits.

National needs to start acting on its campaign promises. So far they have done nothing about the constant upward trend of sickness and invalid benefits despite claiming they would and they have done nothing about work-testing the DPB.

(This post is not to be read as a criticism of people who are genuinely incapacitated. That should go without saying but apparently doesn't.)

Nannies no more - you're kidding

Philicitous Goff is apologising for past nannying and cites eco-light bulbs, low pressure shower heads and the anti-smacking legislation as examples of where Labour went wrong.

Then he praises Kiwisaver and Working for Families as great Labour policies blithely ignoring that these are amongst the worst examples of nannying. Nanny will save for you. Nanny will give you extra money if you have more children than you can afford.

Nanny = state.

But most voters only dislike nanny when she is telling them they can't do something. It's just fine and dandy when she is feathering their nests.

Phil knows this. And so does Key.

It is plain to see what Labour is up to. They are positioning themselves as an anti-nanny opposition. Because National are most certainly giving them plenty ammunition. Think alcohol laws, raising the drinking age, raising the driving age, banning pseudoephedrine, and the real biggy, agreeing to keep the loathed anti-smacking legislation.

Labour is brazenly clearing the decks to brand themselves as the non-nannies. What a joke.

But the truly dreadful aspect of this is people will buy it. And the country will carry on down the alternating Labour/National road with the only real change to the size and power of the state going in the wrong direction.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Symbolic gestures - who are they for?

It seems that every day is something-or-another day. Where does one go to apply for a day to recognise, celebrate or navel-gaze over something? Whoever is running the application office has cocked up because today has been double allocated.

Today is Michigan Fire Services Awareness Day.

But it is also International Suicide Prevention Day. Sorry. I know this is a desperately sad and serious business. But is lighting a candle going to make a blind bit of difference?

The World Health Organisation says;

We are hoping this activity will bring light into the world and increase awareness of the good work so many people do in preventing suicide.

Which reminds me of a message God (or someone acting on his behalf) sent me yesterday. "Due to the recession, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel."

I suppose that is why people kill themselves. The light at the end of their tunnel has gone out.

In 1969 there were 278 deaths from suicide - a rate of 10 per 100,000 people

Today the rate is 13.2 per 100,000.

There is a two day suicide prevention conference going on in Wellington right now. A lot of people are making a living out of other people dying. But not much is changing.

I don't wanna know

Yeah. I feel a bit like that too.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Paid Parental leave would cost at least $700 million

Media Release
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Families Commission today called for the government to extend Paid Parental Leave from 14 weeks to 13 months. Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says this move would cost New Zealand at least $672 million a year by 2013.

"Based on Treasury figures, the current scheme cost $135 million in 2008. Extending entitlement from 14 weeks to 13 months would push this cost up to $540 million. Based on Treasury's current projections, this would further increase to $672 million by 2013. Add to this the month's paid leave the Families Commission wants for fathers/partners , and the cost would rise to over $700 million."

Mitchell cautioned, however, that Treasury doesn't always get it right. "Their initial projected costings for PPL were far too conservative. In 2003 Treasury estimated PPL would cost $74 million by 2008. In fact, it climbed to almost double that figure."

The Families Commission says that most developed countries paid parental leave for at least 12 months yet according to the OECD, the average period is 18 weeks, just four more than New Zealand. "As well, many of the countries that provide longer entitlements than New Zealand do not have long-duration single parent benefits. In Sweden , for example, all parents get the same paid leave entitlement but all are expected to return to work when the entitlement ceases."

"At a time when welfare costs in other areas are rising rapidly, New Zealand simply cannot afford to follow the Families Commission recommendation."

The game of "servants" and "masters"

So CYF workers were told the Minister of Social Development is their "master" and they are her "servants". Big deal. The minister is the 'servant' of the taxpayers but does anybody observe the implications of that? Like heck.

Consider the matter that is frustrating Annette King;

Ms King said there were wider problems of the Government blocking information and communication and said she was frustrated by poor responses to written questions and Official Information Act requests. She had also struggled to get permission to visit CYF offices.

I read the parliamentary questions, but I may as well not. The process is a total sham. Annette King can get no more information out of the Ministry of Social Development than can the general public. There is a constant refusal to answer questions and the asker is sent on a paper chase which goes like this; Refer to my reply 12345. Get to reply 12345 to be told to refer to reply 11345. Get to reply 11345 to be told that the information requested is only published quarterly and the asker should refer to fact sheets at the MSD website.

I have tried in vain via the Ombudsman to get answers to requests that were met previously. Trying to track certain trends has become near impossible.

It had been getting worse under Labour and has deteriorated further under National.

So there are two problems.

First, the current government cannot be properly held to account if they cannot be properly scrutinised. That is a corruption of open and democratic government.

Second, the players (including opposition MPs, their staff, ministry staff, staff at the office of the Ombudsman) are wasting their time and our money.

So you can now see what I mean about the relationship of servant and master being meaningless. We pay, but they say.

But I suppose as most people are National supporters they don't give a damn.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Who is Poneke?

I am an "unqualified beneficiary bashing talkback ranter"

But who is Poneke? Anybody know? Whoever he is he likes his work so much he republishes it within the space of weeks.

'Art' that isn't

Soon I will be submitting an entry into the National Portrait Award. Now I am thinking I should just send the following instructions;

To the installation manager. Walk over to the photocopier and lift the lid. Press your face against the glass and select 'copy'. The result is my entry.

It would save me many hours of expense and effort and maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky and strike a complete and utter fool of a judge who decides there isn't another entry more deserving of the $15,000 prize.

(Hat-tip Crusader Rabbit)

New libertarian blog

Russell Watkins and Graham Clark are two very politically active libertarians from the Bay of Plenty. They have just launched a new blog at SunLive, the on-line version of the Weekend Sun, Tauranga's free weekly. Today's guest blog, The War on Government Welfare, is by....oh, me :-)

Good luck guys.

Think you morons

People keep telling me, there is no work for those on the DPB anyway. Even if we wanted to reform it, where are the jobs?

I'll tell you where the jobs are. In childcare and aged care, both occupations that would allow mothers to combined their own child caring responsibilities with paid work.

Again today more evidence to back me up.

Big queues to get into preschools

Figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Education show an extra 23,026 children including 15,872 under the age of three have joined early-childhood centres in the past eight years. Two-thirds of centres have waiting lists and the wait is more than six months at almost a third (28 per cent) of those catering to children aged three and four well up from 11.9 per cent in 2002 and 17.3 per cent in 2006.

But instead of linking the two needs together we get the typical, easy-option, statist response.

The issue has reignited calls to extend paid parental leave.


Think you morons. Part of the reason two parents have to work is that taxation demands to fuel the welfare state are very high. Some mothers are returning to the workforce early because somebody has to pay for those who either never entered the workforce , are returning to it very late or never.

If a start was made now on training DPB recipients to look after pre-schoolers and the elderly (whose numbers are going to explode in the coming decades) in a short time there wouldn't be worker shortages in either of these industries. With more people productive, taxation would fall. How hard can it be?

Why are we so wedded to dipping hands into taxpayer pockets to fix every perceived problem?

Or don't we want people to have to pay for their own choices?

....child psychiatrist Dr Sally Merry said society should support parents to provide the best care for their children. "We ought to be thinking very hard about ways in which we can support those who would like to stay at home and look after their children."

We did that in the seventies, created the DPB and look where it got us.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Give that man a medal

This is most enjoyable. An excerpt from an interview by Paul Holmes with Chief Families Commissioner Jan Pryor.

PAUL Dr Pryor, isn't the fact true that you exist simply because Labour needed to buy Peter Dunne's cooperation to form a government years back, purely political invention is what you are, you can do nothing and you can make nothing happen, and it costs us eight million dollars?

JAN That’s a view that I hope is changing Paul. The Commission before I came spent about four years clarifying and focusing on what its role should be, because you're right, it was established as a political agreement. I would argue very strongly now that the Commission has earned its stripes. What we do we have three functions, we listen to families…

PAUL All bureaucracies believe in the right to exist and justify that don’t they?

JAN Well let me give you a personal account here, I until a year ago was a full time academic and researcher in a university, I was leading a research centre that was doing research on families, when I was asked if I would do this position I had to think very hard about it. I believed then and I believe even more strongly now that I can do more for New Zealand families in this position of independence, of giving contestable advice to government, to NGOs, to communities and work alongside families and communities, than I could do from the university.

PAUL Alright but certainly in its five years of existence the Families Commission has certainly not affected the child abuse stats, 12,100 kids were listed as abused or neglected by Child Youth and Family last year, 12,100, and that was two and a half thousand more than the previous year. You don’t seem to be achieving much there.

JAN Well do you know – well let me tell you what the Commission does around family violence generally, and remember there is a Children's Commissioner who focuses particularly on children,

PAUL And then there's a department of Social Development as well.

JAN Social Development doesn’t have the independence we have, but let me tell you, I as Chief Commissioner am on the Family Violence Child Support which is a very powerful body of people from everywhere, Police, government…

PAUL Who are obviously really effective in stopping family violence.

The fix is worse than the problem

The not unusual thrust of Tapu Misa's column today, that inequality is the source of all social ills, is too big to take on wholesale. So I will deal with just one claim;

The more hierarchical society becomes, the more sensitive people become to their social status. In fact, say Wilkinson and Pickett, much violence happens because people, especially males, feel disrespected and humiliated.

People live their lives in a microcosm. Family and friends influence them most. Then the wider community and then society. Or whanau, hapu and then iwi, though I am less certain about the order for Maori.

If "males especially" are feeling "disrespected and humiliated" it is most likely by peers, parents or teachers, then later, workmates/playmates or partner. I have heard Maori direct their anger towards the "f---ing Pakeha system" when in trouble with the "f---ing Pakeha law." How widespread that is, I don't know. But I am guessing it is secondary, and contrived anger. The individual first falls foul of, or becomes alienated from, other individuals who he has been far more closely connected to than the somewhat amorphous society.

In Maori and Welfare I wrote;

James Belich plausibly speculates that the ‘desocialisation’ of Pakeha men, a crime-inducing process that occurred in the nineteenth century during male migration from their homelands (and families) to New Zealand, was a similar process to the ‘detribalisation’ that happened to Maori in the latter part of the twentieth century, and similarly caused high crime rates. Belich argued that:
People avoid crime, not primarily because it is illegal, but because of the disapproval of those that matter to them – in the traditional, rural Maori case, the kin group.

Detribalisation and relative confinement of large families within small urban houses delivered ‘street culture’ and youth gangs. The economy that supported the detribalisation process was a mix of low-wage employment and increasingly accessible welfare benefits.

In both Pakeha and Maori worlds, the role of the male has become increasingly disrupted. And that is the result of government attempts to equalise material well-being. The Royal Commission of 1972 recommended that social security be widened so everyone had a sense of belonging, a right to participate. It was thought there was too much inequality then, yet violence wasn't anywhere near today's levels.

Retrospectively the major policy to arise from the Commission was the domestic purposes benefit. Men could now be fathers in the most limited sense of the word. Sperm donors and wallets (where wallets had anything in them).

Some men would have celebrated this new found 'freedom'. No more court or prison for failing to provide. No submitting to shotgun marriages. No need to hold down a job. But the downside is obvious. No need to take responsibility. No need to commit or care. Idleness and disaffection. And women are more violent as well. No social constrictions or stigmas to acquiesce to. No relationship compromises to bow to. That's freedom?

Welfare, or the redistribution of cash to achieve equality, has done far more to create violence than the pre-existing inequality. Yet Tapu Misa's prescription for a better world would require more of it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Public notice for Auckland readers

Boscawen Challenges Local MPs To Front
John Boscawen MP, ACT New Zealand
Friday, September 4 2009

ACT New Zealand MP John Boscawen today challenged Labour leader Phil Goff to attend a public meeting this Monday, in his Mt Roskill electorate, in order to defend his decision not to support a law change, despite the overwhelming smacking referendum results.

"More people voted 'No' within the Mt Roskill electorate than voted for Mr Goff to be their local MP. It's time Mr Goff fronted up to the residents of Mt Roskill to explain why he is ignoring their wishes and why he thinks he knows best," Mr Boscawen said.

"In fact, out of the 70 electoral seats in Parliament, 56 electorates had more residents vote 'No' in the referendum, than who voted for the MP who now represents them. I have yet to see one of those MPs fighting for a change in the law.

"New Zealanders vote for their electorate MPs to be their voice in Parliament – not so that those MPs can run their lives and tell them what to do.

"That is why I will be holding not one, but a series of public debates around the country on the smacking referendum and how the adoption of my Private Members Bill – to amend Section 59 - could solve this issue. I intend to hold a public debate in the Helensville electorate where 25,327 voted 'No'.

"I will be challenging the local electorate MP in each area – including Prime Minister John Key - to front up to their constituents, and defend their decision not to support a change to the law.

"This is no longer just about the smacking referendum; it's about the whole democratic process in New Zealand. After all, what value is there in an electorate MP that doesn't listen to their constituents?

"Under the constitutional principle of the rule of law, our citizens need to have certainty that they can go about their lawful business without fear or threat of being detained or investigated by the police. I am delighted that Professor Jim Evans, Emeritus Professor of Auckland Law School, has agreed to address this issue at the Mt Roskill meeting," Mr Boscawen said.

Public Debate On Smacking Referendum, Monday, September 7 2009, 7.30pm, Hay Park School, 670 Richardson Road, Mt Roskill, Auckland

An "endearing" Minister

Colin James wrote a column in The Press last week about Key's continuing popularity. Since then a Roy Morgan poll has the National-led government up further to 60 percent. One of the comments Colin James makes is this;

So Paula Bennett can make gaffes, some serious, and Key can rely on the public seeing them as endearing.

Beyond gaffes, other aspects of Paula Bennett's life also endear her to the public. Maori solo mum made good - great role model stuff. Her new westie-chick car. Her forgiving Christian attitude to the young man her daughter is involved with. Her ballsy intervention in a shopping mall fracas.

But here's the question. Will New Zealand be well-served by an endearing Minister of Social Development? Is she going to be the Mother Theresa of beneficiaries when the time is well-overdue for some tough love?

Young women on benefits have a strange attitude to life in my experience. They are waiting for it to start. Like, one day, they are going to be a lawyer or something. And when you ask when they are going to start doing the work that will be required (which is usually going back to NCEA level and passing some exams) their eyes glaze over. One day.

It is quite likely one day will never come but the dole will keep on coming. They can just keep on living in limbo, making themselves feel good about it because they have ambitions, like, y'know.

Sure they aren't all in this mold. But the ones that aren't are self-motivated. The Minister doesn't need to lose any sleep over them. She does need to be thinking hard, very hard, about what will shake up the others. And it isn't a hey girlfriend approach.