Sunday, January 27, 2013

Damien Grant on child poverty

Damien Grant has written a very unusual column in today's NZ Herald. I don't really follow the logic but was engaged nevertheless. Let's see if I can paraphrase, making some sense of it in the process.

First he says child poverty doesn't exist in NZ. Not by the UN definition. And the NZ definition is  a silly invention, based on the latest Children's Commissioner report.

Then he leaps to poor African children saying he'd rather spend any available money he had upgrading his cellphone than sending it to them. Hence he doesn't care and neither do many others (unless they are sponsoring a child to massage their own ego.)

So if we don't even care about real child poverty in Africa why should we care about invented child poverty in NZ?

Then he ends with an after thought about the office of the Children's Commissioner being abolished.

Um. Well, I agree with some of sentiments, especially the last. But comparing Africa and NZ doesn't work for me.

We've sponsored children for longer than we've had our own. But their photo is not on our $2,000 fridge. Frankly I find the idea of being some sort of phantom parent onerous and worry when World Vision sends cards for you to write a little message to your assigned child. Personally I think it's pointless but do it because I'm concerned that other sponsored children will get messages and photos, and mine will feel left out if they don't. The reason we sponsor World Vision is because we believe in the work they do in making communities self-sufficient or more self-sufficient.

But child poverty in NZ is an entirely different kettle of fish. Here we hand out fish instead of fishing rods. Trite. I know.

My views on how welfare has created child poverty have been well and truly canvassed so no more to say there. But instead of simply not caring we need to be saying to idiots like the Children's Commissioner, I care about the problem (neglect, under-achievement, avoidable ill-health for instance) but I don't give a fig for your diagnosis or solution.

I don't know where I fit into Damien Grant's world.

22 comments:

thor42 said...

"child poverty doesn't exist in NZ."
True. What the lefties would call "poverty" is self-inflicted hopelessness. Laziness, spending money on booze and smokes and having too many children that you can't afford to look after.

As for African poverty - it exists, but so does pilfering of aid sent to Africa. That's why I'd never in a million years send a dollar to an aid organisation there.
Not just pilfering, but the huge overheads that big aid organisations have (which can swallow up 20% or more of funds).

Finally, I just *have* to comment on the recent finding that Herr Clarkenfuhrer's so-called "aid group" (the UNDP) has "very little to do with aid" and is as useless as tits on a bull).
Typical of a UN group. That finding was *pure gold* to those like myself who realise how much she (and Cullen) knackered our economy.

Damien Grant said...

Lindsay,

I was tackling the idiocy of the Commissioner’s nonsense. I am not saying I have the answers. If you want to do something about child poverty in New Zealand, than that is great, but I do not think that there is a moral basis for taking tax payers money and spending it on reliving poverty in New Zealand when we, by revealed preference, do not care about other, much poorer, children.

Also, of course, I like to force people to think.

Anonymous said...

There's two things in this I found sad:

- Thinking (or not thinking) a new cell phone is right up there with saving lives.

- Thinking its right to think as above.

If your consience is not even pricked while indulging yourself its a bad sign. At least it made me think - I'll go and actually do something useful after thinking anout it for too long.

3:16

James said...

I agree with Grant.Altruism is immoral and destructive.All this bleeding heart guiltripping must stop.

Hey Anon....just WHY does Grant or anyone have an unchosen obligation to others simply because they have a need...? Why? His life is his own and the choices he makes are his by right to make.

"I swear,by my life and my love of it that I will my live for no Man...nor ask another to life for mine." John Galt, Atlas Shrugged.

James said...

Typos....

"
"I swear,by my life and my love of it that I will live my life for no Man...nor ask another to live for mine." John Galt, Atlas Shrugged.

Brendan said...

Lindsay

Yes, the office of the Children's Commissioner has outlived any usefulness it may have had, its most recent report is a compelling example.

James

Part of what it means to be human is to have empathy for our fellow man, particularly those worse off than ourselves. For many people, that results in voluntary charitable support for those most in need.

To deny or diminish that response, is to make us just a little less human.

James said...

Brendan.....where did I say otherwise....? Helping others is fine...but only if done by free benovolent choice.Altruism says that its you DUTY to live for others before yourself...its a slave doctrine of unearned guilt and its evil.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Damien,

Like you I don't think there is a moral case for forcing people to pay to reduce so-called child poverty (certainly not any further). That strategy has already made the problem (as I describe it in my post) worse. But neither can I simply say, I don't care - some days I wish I could.

It'd be interesting to know how many New Zealanders (your "we") do consistently support international charities like World Vision and CFC though. I hope my faith in these organisations is warranted. It's based on reports they send about specific projects in the child's community.

On the other hand, I've yet to feel persuaded to donate to KidsCan.

Anonymous said...

"His life is his own and the choices he makes are his by right to make."

That's true at a superficial level but I suspect its not that easy. Don't forget it when someone choses not to help you in a sticky moment - not all will be good Samaritan types. If you were right I suspect we wouldn't value the courageous so much.

3:16

JC said...

One of the really interesting things about the annual household income surveys is they show little change in the quartiles from 2008-11 (and surely 2012). In fact bottom and top have increased the most.

Nor is the net income much affected because there have been tax reductions and inflation lower than under Labour.

All thats really happened is the "perception" that incomes have gone South.. and I think this is what the Commissioner and others are playing on.

Sure its tough for those that lose their jobs, but 50% are back in another job within 1-13 weeks.. its really the not yet breeding (mostly) young who have the highest unemployment and probably longest duration of unemployment.
As Key said in his recent speech every three months between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs disappear and 100,000-200,000 are created.

The point is that children might appear to be in poverty at the time of the survey, but weeks later they disappear as parents find work and another cohort appear on our crazy poverty measure. Key said the labour market is "dynamic".. well, so is the unemployment roll.

Finally, there has probably been a profound change in the world economy that will see Western Govts scrambling to get out of social programmes that are no longer affordable, and that means the way we view the so called poor.
Whilst we'll all feel terribly sorry and even guilty about the poor kids we'll increasingly tell the parents that we can't afford to keep them at 60% of the median wage and they will have to take more responsibility for themselves.

We've run out of other people's money.

JC

James said...

"That's true at a superficial level but I suspect its not that easy. Don't forget it when someone choses not to help you in a sticky moment - not all will be good Samaritan types. If you were right I suspect we wouldn't value the courageous so much."

Changes nothing...my need is still no right to claim on anothers life to give me aid. Now most people will help others in real need out of a self interseted sense of empathy..."there but for the grace of God" etc....but once force and altruist unchosen obligation is used as a motivating factor to give aid to others then people are LESS inclined to want to help their fellowman and tend to reagrd him as a liability to their own lives and rights to pursue happiness.

See how attitudes are developing amoungst the working productive class in NZ towards the expanding and increasingly self entitled benefit class being created by the welfare state...

The Gantt Guy said...

I believe most here are saying the same things, and James, I suspect you may have a nouveau interpretation of the term 'altruism'.

I don't think anybody here is suggesting that there is anything wrong for a person to donate from their own plenty, to another who is (perceived to be) in need. But there is no OBLIGATION to do so. If someone freely chooses to make a charitable donation, that is their free will. The line is crossed when charitable giving becomes compulsion. Where (for example) tax dollars are ripped by force from the pockets of tho who have earned it, and showered upon those who have not, it ceases to be charity and becomes theft. Whether funding school lunches for 'underprivileged children', or the NZSO, or "social" housing, or "donations" to the UN to redistribute among those the Klarkenfuhrer deems worthy (more often than not, herself and her cohort of communist collaborators).

James, the dictionary definition of altruism is "the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others". If someone chooses such a path, for whatever internal motivation, that is their choice. WHen it is forced upon them, or when guilt-trips are used as a mechanism it ceases to be altruistic and becomes obligatory.

thor42 said...

@James - "...the expanding and increasingly self entitled benefit class being created by the welfare state..."

Agreed, and "Working for Families" feeds right into that.
*Why* on earth the Nats haven't axed that is a mystery. It's a *Labour* policy, so it's not as if its sacrosanct.

Anonymous said...

Thor42
Yes good idea thor42.While they are at it they should axe the accommadation Supplement.Working for families is a subsidy for Employers in effect and Accommadation Supplement is a subsidy for Landlords.To deny this is just ignorant.
How does 'The Market' rule with these subsidies?

Anonymous said...

we need to be saying to idiots like the Children's Commissioner, I care about the problem

You might, but the rest of us sure as hell don't. The idea we should care is simply leftism - basically communism. And NZ is not a communist country!

Which part of "There is no such thing as society" have you forgotten?


The best solution is to let the market solve this non-problem. Yes, that absolutely means kids & their bludger parents starving in gutters. Economically, that must absolutely be part of any solution that will actually work!

Anonymous said...

To deny or diminish that response, is to make us just a little less human.

Utter crap. That response does not make us "more human" - it makes us more insectoid, like a beehive or an ant colony.

The only effective way to deal with these socialists is 9mm or bigger.

Psycho Milt said...

Damien features here in a blog post appropriately entitled "Not too bright."

Anonymous said...


Finally, there has probably been a profound change in the world economy that will see Western Govts scrambling to get out of social programmes


Short answer: The Welfare west is bankrupt and only getting worse! (All except Norway, but they're basically only existing on their oil revenues).

Whilst we'll all feel terribly sorry and even guilty about the poor kids

bullshit. bludgers deserve to starve in the gutter. That's the beginning and end of it all.

See how attitudes are developing amoungst the working productive class

Which part of "bludgers must starve in the gutter" don't you understand?

While they are at it they should axe the accommadation Supplement.Working for families is a subsidy for Employers in effect and Accommadation Supplement is a subsidy for Landlords

Nope - they should axe every single damn benefit - OK I can see some argument for veterans and veterans' widows pensions but everything else should just be gone. Dole. DPB. Codger-Dole. WFF. EQC. ACC. And yes, state houses, state schools, state GPs * hospitals, the whole bludging apparatus of NZ's communist state

The only reform is ending it all. And we will only know it is successful, yes, when we have hundred of thousands starving in the gutter. Australia closing its borders to Kiwis without guaranteed jobs will be the first sign that reforms are successful!

Anonymous said...

*Why* on earth the Nats haven't axed that is a mystery

Cos you can take the kid out of the state house but you can't take the state house out of the kid!

Anyone whose lived in a state house, gone to a state school, used a state hospital, had a state student loan (even at a private provider) been on any benefit, taken ACC or EQC or Kiwisaver

should be banned permanently from voting, or from being elected or appointed to any position of responsibility in NZ.

James said...

Altruism is a term invented by August Compte TO REFER TO A MORALITY THAT SAYS MORALITY IS TO BE FOUND IN SELF SACFIRICAL ACTIONS FOR OTHERS BECAUSE THEY HAPPEN TO BE OTHERS.....now look it up and I WILL ASS SLAP YOU IN A FEW HOURS...!!!

The Gantt Guy said...

James, whether my dictionary definition or your historical one, 'altruism' is essentially internally-driven. As you say, it is a 'morality', and morality can only ever come from within.

My entire point was that 'charity' ends and 'theft' begins when internal motivations give way to external compulsion.

And, I didn't know you thought of me that way. I'm flattered by the offer, by I only go for the ladies.

James said...

Altruism is in fact driven by external factors being used to induce a guilt trip that makes the person surrender their self esteem and own scale of values to....Its for the benefit of others because they are others and not yourself.August Compte,who coined the phrase,specifically meant it to mean self-lessness as "moral code"...