Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Replacement for commonsense

The government has developed what it calls a Child Impact Assessment Tool. Essentially it's a template for testing any policy for its effect on children and seems to have been developed at the behest of the United Nations.

Having waded through it, including the separate section on possible 'differential' impacts on Maori children, I'm left with the one overwhelming response - it's a replacement for commonsense.

Sorry, no, I have another.

It is no wonder governments become so sprawling when you consider the hours and man power it took to devise this, and the hours and man power it will take to administer it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

MSD throws in the towel

An announcement appeared at the MSD website that a Declaration of Seasonal Tasman Labour Shortage was being made on April 5.

A declaration of a labour shortage from the very agency charged with getting the unemployed into jobs? That must mean the local unemployment rate is close to zero.

Actually it's 3.5%

But there are no beneficiaries left in the region?

Actually there were 924 "work-ready jobseekers" in February. Not to mention a few hundred more in nearby Blenheim, Westport and Greymouth.

The natural question question to ask is, why, then, is there a shortage? But the answer to that lies in the incapacity of beneficiaries to provide the required quality and consistency of work required.

The real question is why the announcement?

The answer appears at the very end of the statement, by which time most will have ceased reading.

"By declaring a labour shortage in Tasman, people from overseas with visitor visas can apply for a Variation of Conditions, which allows them to work through the declaration period."
MSD giving up and admitting that local growers want overseas pickers in preference to beneficiaries.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Updating artist blog

Still playing catch up after the year spent renovating full-time.

Have just updated my artist blog with a few newer works.

Here's one, a still-life in oil with palette knife:


And this gorgeous Rottie pup:


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Turning the tide on compulsory over-parenting

More in from yesterday's contributor, to whom I am most grateful.

Source

Utah governor signs law legalizing ‘free-range parenting’
Lindsay Whitehurst

SALT LAKE CITY — So-called free-range parenting will soon be the law of the land in Utah after the governor signed what appears to be the country’s first measure to formally legalize allowing kids to do things on their own to foster self-sufficiency.

The bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday that he’d signed, specifies that it isn’t neglectful to let kids do things alone like travel to school, explore a playground or stay in the car. The law takes effect May 8.

Utah’s law is the first in the country, said Lenore Skenazy, who coined the term free-range parent. A records search by the National Conference of State Legislatures didn’t turn up any similar legislation in other states.

Utah lawmakers said they were prompted to pass the law after seeing other states where parents had been investigated and in some cases had their children temporarily removed when people reported seeing kids playing basketball in their yards or walking to school alone.

Headline-grabbing cases have included a Maryland couple investigated after allowing their 10- and-6-year-old children to walk home alone from a park in 2015.

Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore of South Jordan has said allowing kids to try things alone helps prepare them for the future, though some have raised concerns the law could be used as defenses in child-abuse cases if not carefully deployed.

The law states the child must be mature enough to handle those things but leaves the age purposely open-ended so police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis, Fillmore has said.

Skenazy, who wrote the book “Free Range Kids” after writing about letting her 9-year-old ride the New York City subway alone, has said the law is a good way to reassure parents who might be nervous about their parenting decisions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Graph of the Day

A reader sent me the following graph:


As he comments, "No surprise".

Yet the media witter on and on about the gender earnings gap.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Why more prisons are needed





Two things are happening:

1/ Some inmates released on parole commit serious, even fatal, crimes
2/ Some inmates who have the potential to rehabilitate are kept in prison longer than necessary

But if Labour doesn't want to build more prisons they will have to address the legislation that's driving up numbers. After all, it was passed under a Labour government.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Rainbow Tick

Ever heard of The Rainbow Tick? I came across it at the Human Rights Commission website:

The Rainbow Tick programme allows businesses and organisations to understand what they are doing well in regard to their Rainbow personnel, what they need to improve, and how to do this. Through the help of the Rainbow Tick a manager can derive the best from an employee by being a good employer.
Getting the Rainbow Tick also allows us to show our employees and all New Zealand that we are a progressive, inclusive and dynamic organisation that reflects the community that we serve.
We are really proud and excited to be recognised for our efforts as a welcoming and inclusive work place and urge other organisations to consider doing the same. 
Nothing of particular interest here then. Just PC back-patting. But wait:

 Other organisations and businesses who have already achieved the Tick include: Westpac, ASB, Fletcher Building, Coco-Cola Amatil, KPMG, Microsoft, PWC, Simpson Grierson, AUT, Sovereign, Publicis Loyalty, Sky City, Repromed and Russel McVeagh.

That last one rings a bell. They certainly have been inclusive.

On a serious note, is it any wonder that the Human Rights Commission cannot hear cases and complaints because they simply don't have the resources? Apparently they are only investigating 'urgent' complaints currently. Perhaps some prioritization is in order.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Michael Cullen can't be trusted

A report in today's DomPost  details Michael Cullen's thinking as he embarks on his chairmanship of the Tax Working Group. The title alone, Cullen: Taxes could change bad behaviours is enough to send a shiver down your spine. But so should this:
Cullen said taxes were normally higher in richer countries than in poorer ones and said New Zealand's tax system did less, compared to most in the OECD, to redistribute money from the rich to the poor.
Really?

According to latest OECD data (published 2017) NZ has the highest percentage cash transfer to the lowest quintile:





And NZ rates above the OECD average in how much of its GDP is turned into public social spending to the working-age population:



New Zealand doesn't do so much universalism but it certainly rates right up there when it comes to redistributing money "from the rich to the poor".

A very dodgy start from Cullen.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Vigilantism reaches NZ

A US writer adequately states the problem:

"What counts as sexual harassment? Good question. Men accused of boorish gestures or vulgar remarks face the same disgrace as outright rapists. And never mind if the accusations lack proof and the accusers remain anonymous."

Now we have our own #metoo campaign headed by journalist Ali Mau who yesterday told Mark Sainsbury that her "investigation" would be naming and shaming. "I'm coming for you," said the fearless Mau.

I have one word. Vigilantism.

Who will define the deed(s) and the perpetrator? What legislative framework will they work under? Who decides whether hurt to the families of perpetrators is justified? Who calculates an acceptable degree of collateral damage? Who sets the standard of proof to be met by accusers?

The potential for this exercise to snowball wildly out of control is significant.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

One year on

A year on. Who'd have thought it'd take so long. But how much we have learned. Probably the most educative year of my entire life. Would I recommend it? Not if making money is the goal.


Some before and after shots:








More

Friday, February 23, 2018

Bravo Bryce

Bryce Wilkinson from the New Zealand Initiative writes:

When I was a lad, Treasury was a home for bean counters. Many a fine public servant did an accounting degree part-time at evening classes at Vic. Full-time study was unaffordable; they needed a day job for income.

They knew their day job. It was to run a surgical eye over departmental spending proposals. Noes were more satisfying than Ayes. Noes could help a minister of finance keep the budget healthy. Noes saved ‘the country’ money.

The proportion of Noes that won the day in Cabinet was a measure of one’s batting average.

They wrote short, incisive reports with recommendations based on a few well-chosen facts, knowledge, and experience. Cabinet deadlines were tight. A succinct one-page report was good. It would be read. A longer one might not be.

Looking back, one has to feel sorry for these investigating officers. The poor chaps never had a chance in these short reports to muse about such lofty matters as intergenerational wellbeing.

Happily, today’s Treasury is not so constrained by cold-hearted value-for-money considerations. Your and my wellbeing and that of our children and their future children are ever closer to its throbbing heart.

This week it added to the warming embrace by releasing four discussion documents on its wellbeing framework. Treasury wants “government agencies to be more cohesive so public policy on wellbeing, spending and other government interventions is aligned with improving intergenerational wellbeing”.

At long last the public service will overcome its silo tendencies. We look forward to seeing agencies graciously deferring to each other: “No, please cut our budget to help you expand yours, what you are doing is more important for intergenerational wellbeing”.

The Treasury old-timers probably never conceived that this might be possible.  One can almost imagine them applauding in unison from their graves.

It is comforting to know that the public service will be focusing on how much you want to cut back on your spending to bequeath more to the next generation. You won’t need to think about that for yourself as much.

Perhaps the day will come when the sign outside Treasury, coined from a Christchurch art exhibit, reads: The House of Wellbeing, Resilience and Sustainability: All Welcome, bar Bean Counters.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Renovation completed

It seems a life time ago (yet only a year) when I asked readers whether I should keep the fireplace in our recently purchased renovation property:



We didn't.

Here is how the room looks today with brand new bay window featuring original leadlights, additional ceiling batons ...


...and en suite:


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why child poverty targets make no sense

Published in NBR, Friday, Feb 9, but behind a paywall:

Why child poverty targets make no sense

The new coalition government intends to set targets to reduce the proportion of children living in low income homes, and impose them on future governments. It's feel-good stuff from a fledgling Prime Minister who's made fighting child poverty her own personal crusade.

It's feel-good but definitely fraught, and probably futile and foolish. Let me explain by way of example.

My family is 2,2 (two adults, two dependents). That's the coding description used in the Household Incomes Report, the official  source of child poverty statistics.

For argument's sake, our income could be $100,000.  Because, according to the report, "... a larger household needs more income than a smaller household for the two households to have similar standards of living... " a process called equivalisation is applied. That means  $100,000 is scaled down to $50,000 for comparative data purposes.

Equivalised incomes provide the median from which thresholds are set. Children in poverty are usually deemed to live in households with incomes under the 60 percent threshold of the equivalised median.

Your eyes are glazing over.

But the point to make is that in 2017 our 2,2 family reduced to a 2,1 group after 1 left home to study in Dunedin. Immediately we got 'richer' due to the equivalisation process artificially bumping up our income.

In fact we got 'poorer' because 1 in Dunedin required more financial support than when part of our 'official' household.

The current statistical measurement does not capture what is actually happening in our household. We apparently got richer but actually got poorer. Of course this is just a one-off example of how surveyed statistics can't accurately measure what is happening in individual households.

At the macro level, let me pose a circumstance whereby children in poverty could also apparently get 'richer'.

The ageing population and reducing home ownership means that increasingly, more elderly will rely solely on Super. That means more will be poorer. As they move into statistical ranks of poverty, fewer children can occupy those ranks (remembering all measured poverty in New Zealand is relative).

The Household Incomes Report - a meticulous and honest piece of work -  highlights how various circumstances can throw up misleading outcomes:

"...in times of good economic growth with rising real wages, rising employment and reducing unemployment, median income (and therefore the poverty lines which are simply a proportion of the median) can rise more quickly than the incomes in the lower parts of the income distribution. In these circumstances a REL measure would report increasing poverty even if those in low-income households were experiencing real income growth.

This counter-intuitive result was observed in Ireland in the 1990s: the poor became ‘richer’ in real terms, but because the income growth of the middle income households was even greater, poverty rates grew considerably as measured using a REL threshold. This also happened for New Zealand from 1998 to 2004, albeit on a more modest scale.

The reverse is also possible. It was observed in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in the early 1990s when each of these nations experienced large falls in national income. Real incomes fell, but poverty was reported as declining as measured by a REL approach as a result of the falling median and therefore the lowering poverty thresholds."

Under this scenario, a government which drove the local economy into recession could still argue it had met its child poverty reduction targets!

Then we have another problem. The statistics apply in any given year (and are always lagging). But incomes are very fluid. Especially for the contracted and self-employed. Also, parental relationships and living arrangements change more frequently than in the past. A child recorded in poverty in 2017 might not be in 2018. The economic fluidity of parents in New Zealand is much greater than in lesser economically developed countries. Poverty is not generally persistent.

The minefield that is measuring and setting poverty reduction targets has already been exposed. The United Kingdom tried and failed. Aware of this, the National government nevertheless kept a close eye on every available social indicator. Anyone who doubts this should refer to the work of the Ministerial Committee on Poverty (https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/publications/ministerial-committee-poverty).

They concluded that a small group of children were in persistent and chronic poverty. They targeted efforts at this group (which in part explains their support for whanau ora). For example the strongest correlate for child poverty is welfare dependence. A goal of reducing the number of children in benefit-dependent households was set as part of the Better Public Service goals. Real progress had been made seeing a reduction of 61,000 between 2011 and 2017, yet Labour has scrapped the goals.

Most voters didn't have a clue what English was up to. But he had studied the problem for decades.

New kid in town hasn't had the time or experience to draw conclusions vital to effective action.

Re-resorting to hiked income redistribution to lift children above artificial and arbitrary thresholds is senseless.

Worse, there is a very real prospect of the deep-seated problems connected with parental state dependency - diminished or relinquished responsibility for their own children -  will worsen.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Quote of the Day

Paul Meredith writes, "Sorrenson (Ngata et al.1986, 258) cites a letter from Sir Peter Buck to Eric Ramsden who states:

'I am with you as an advocate for miscegenation. It is an inevitable process which has taken place down the ages and the blending of the two races into New Zealand citizenship should do away ultimately with the bickering between pakeha and Maori.' "

Source


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Some positive poverty news

There is NZ research from the SOFIE (now discontinued) data that mirrors the findings below recently published by the University of Queensland. It's out of step with the leftist discourse so little is heard about it:

Poverty is not a life sentence in Australia
January 24, 2018, University of Queensland

"Researchers say almost half of Australian families tracked in a 30-year study have experienced poverty at least once.


University of Queensland researcher Emeritus Professor Jake Najman said the study found little evidence of a persistent 'underclass,' suggesting that for many families poverty was a transient stage in life.

"It was common for families to move in and out of hardship, due to a change of circumstances such as loss of employment or marital breakdown."

"However, there was evidence of substantial economic mobility – the ability of a family or individual to improve (or experience a decline) in their economic status – both within a single generation and across generations."

Emeritus Professor Najman said it was not surprising those most likely to suffer poverty were single mothers, the unemployed and aged pensioners.

"The study suggested that poverty in Australia could be split into two groups – a relatively small group who experience chronic, long-term poverty and a much larger group who experience shorter periods of hardship."

"Interestingly, adversity experienced early in the child's life course does not independently predict poverty when the child reaches adulthood. "

He said that meant those who experienced high levels of poverty and/or adversity in early childhood rarely went on to experience persistent poverty and adversity such as unemployment as adults, and other factors were more likely to lead to adult poverty.

The study of more than 2000 Brisbane families measured family income when the child was born, and at five, 14, 21 and 30 years.

Emeritus Professor Najman said future research would investigate the health and behavioural consequences of the different forms of poverty."




Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First child poverty reduction target

"Reduce the proportion of children in low income households (before housing costs) from roughly 15 per cent of all children to 5 percent. This reduces the number by more than half from 160,000 to 60,000."

The threshold used to measure the proportion below is the median (the middle whereupon half fall below and half fall above).

The next  measure, which establishes "low income",  is arbitrary. It might be 50% of the median or - most commonly used internationally -  60% of the median.

The easiest way to reduce the proportion of children from "15 to 5 percent" is to lower the median.

With Labour's new workplace policies, that's not an unrealistic prospect.

This might also be naturally achieved with an ageing population who have increasingly not owned their own homes and will rely solely on Super.

If more childless families  are poorer then the child poverty problem will reduce.

This target is bunkum.

Having children makes you poor

Clearly children are a cost on a household economy but my statement goes beyond that.

What most people don't appreciate is how the government measures household income and the effect  the presence of children has on the result.

It's called equivalisation.

It's the application of a formula to adjust income for the number of household members.

Here is the relevant table from last year's report:


"The first row of figures identifies the family or household type: (1,2) is a one adult, two child household, and so on. The second row gives the values of the equivalence ratios used. The body of the table indicates, for example, that a (2,2) household needs around $28,000 to have the same purchasing power as a (1,1) household with an income of around $18,000. Each has an equivalised income of $13,000 (or, to put it another way, each household has an income of $13,000 per equivalent adult). "

The way child poverty is measured is derived from the median equivalised household income.

So from the example a 2 adult, 2 children household has their income more than halved before it is entered into the calculation.

So we have this crazy conundrum.

The mere fact of having children drives households into 'poverty'. Or the way poverty is measured creates a greater problem than might otherwise present.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Heather Du Plessis - oxygen for the suffocating

Heather du Plessis-Allan is now the morning talk host at Wellington NewstalkZB.

I've never understood why the station doesn't just can the Wellington programme and let Leighton Smith blast us. But demand for localism  prevailed. This combined with a moderate host stopped me listening.

Now Heather, I am going to disagree with plenty of times but at least she takes a position with conviction. After years of not participating I was compelled to ring and express a view this week.

At only 33 she has clearly avoided the offence and victimhood virus most prevalent and contagious  in young adulthood.

If you are in Wellington - or the NewstalkZB listening area -  I can commend her to you.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Winston picking winners

Readers know I love my horse racing. The industry has been screaming for more government support because that's why it's so much healthier in Australia (and hurting our industry in the process).

Today Racing Minister Winston Peters apparently promised an all weather track at the cost of $10 million (double it for starters) and either promised or called for tax breaks because the industry (breeding in particular) brings in so much money.

If tax breaks can make one industry stronger, then they can make any industry stronger.

Government picking winners is a recipe for corruption and injustice. We cannot expect New Zealanders who have not a skerrick of interest in the racing industry to disproportionately pay taxes to advance it.

Tax breaks are not subsidies if they are applied universally. Reduce tax period.

You are a guardian of public money Winston. Not a private investor.

On the upside, I am looking forward to our Prime anti-poverty crusader getting it in the neck today over her government's support for "rich pricks".


Friday, January 19, 2018

Interesting silence

Latest benefit statistics show year-on-year decreases.

Should National or Labour take credit for this?

Quarterly benefit data release typically elicits party pressers.

No mention in the media so neither finds a political gain to shout about.

National could justifiably claim credit. Maybe still knocked off for summer.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Make-work Mistakes

Treasury has made a cock-up.

Some sort of coding error related to the accommodation supplement has meant their calculations about the reduction in child poverty are incorrect.

So what? They are probably going to be incorrect anyway because there are so many variables at play. What is going to happen in the housing market for instance. How potential parents are going to react to the $3,000 baby bonus. How unemployment trends, etc etc.

But the number of well-paid boffins studying poverty plebs will swell as Treasury seeks to review and understand where it went wrong.

It's an absurdity.

Monday, January 15, 2018

We aren't all feminist drones

Readers know I am into horses. My last 5 percenter, Everything, did me proud.

My new 5 percenter, Jaktar, is also looking good.

Listening to Radio Trackside's Des Coppins interveiwing another syndicate manager today, I laughed out loud.

One guy has 1 share and another 99 women have the others. The woman 'manager' suggested they call the syndicate Witches of  Westview. The male was hesitant. What if some members took offence at being called "witch"? The woman manager responded, if they take offence, they aren't the sort of women we want in the syndicate.

Me too.


Monday, January 08, 2018

The Hollywood witch-hunt

Why am I so agitated by the campaign against sexual harassment building a head of steam in Hollywood, and elsewhere?

The question isn't a mere opener to a post. I put it to myself in order to write this.

I get some easy answers, for instance, I don't like any collectivism at all.

1/ Individuals should fight their our own battles and 2/ Aspersions should not be cast on non-offenders based on the class they occupy, for instance, all men are not rapists.

But it goes further.

Why are these participating women so hellbent on being victims? Hurt is a private matter for me, rationalised and resolved (if ever) at a personal level. (If ever) is a big deal. Maybe historical hurts should be left in the past, in context, and with regard to one's own contribution to the circumstances.

Contribution? But each and every accuser is a non-contributing angel... surely? If you believe that then you haven't lived.

But above all, feminism - which represented a longing for greater freedom when I was a teenager - has evolved into a grotesque PC witch hunt hellbent on robbing freedom from the rightly or wrongly accused. Contextual 'truth' is irrelevant.

If there is an individual who is exploiting and abusing you, walk away. If you are letting them, to further your own interests, then you are a collaborator. Don't sanctify your capitulation retrospectively.


Sunday, January 07, 2018

Distorted self regard

Reacting to the passing of Jim Anderton, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about how he "gave 40 years service to New Zealand."

Up a ladder painting, I responded to nobody in particular, "He didn't 'give' it. He was paid, quite handsomely."

The notion that public service employees are somehow self-sacrificing needs crushing.

They occupy some of the best paid and most secure jobs to be found.

Politicians exist in a place of privilege.

And it's a long way from up my ladder, or amongst the cat-shit under the renovation house, or sweltering in the attic. Places I have enjoyed this year 'hoping' to earn a living.

We have provided work for numerous people and made a significant contribution to the economy.

But in the private sector none blathers on about giving service to the country. Neither should they.



Monday, January 01, 2018

Shock, horror, UNICEF says something positive about NZ

It's true. For once UNICEF isn't banging on about child poverty levels in New Zealand. Apparently,

"Babies born in New Zealand have access to high levels of care, education and medical assistance, which is reflected in their long life-spans."

Yet in June 2017 they were saying:

 New Zealand has performed poorly in a global report card on children’s well-being, and Kiwi kids will continue to miss out unless there is a massive upheaval in how children’s best interests are served, says child rights organisation UNICEF NZ.

The first statement is accurate. The second is political.

Welcome to 2018, a year when 'feelings' will rule over facts.